Friday, 10 July 2015

Brent Council: Does mere data gathering justify race equality award?

Nan Tewari has been following up the issue of Brent Council reaching the finals of the Race for Opportunity Award. This correspondence tells the story:

Dear Nan

Thank you for your phone call last week regarding Brent Council.

Our award categories are designed to celebrate and spotlight specific areas of best practice. The Transparency, Monitoring & Action Award specifically recognises best practice of the capture of ethnicity data within an organisation. It recognises organisations that are monitoring and evaluating the attraction, recruitment, progression, development, employee engagement, appraisal/performance ratings and retention of BAME employee in their workplace. We have this award because we believe that monitoring workforce data by ethnicity is one of the first and most important steps an employer can take towards understanding gaps in their workforce and improving diversity. 

We assess award entries against the criteria of the category being entered and this assessment is based on the information provided in the award application. Brent Council entered The Transparency, Monitoring & Action Award and their entry was scored in line with the award category criteria, and the entry met the requirements to be named as a finalist in this category.

All judging (our judging panels include external independent experts) has taken place and the winners will be announced at the dinner in October.  

Best wishes

Sandra Kerr OBE

Race Equality Director

Dear Sandra,

I appreciate the time you have taken to reply and do not intend to take up your time with a protracted correspondence as this would be pointless.  I do however have some comments.

The mere exercise of data gathering does not confer equal opportunities status on an employer.  Brent has gone from being an Authority with significant BME representation in its management ranks to being the metaphorical pint of Guiness, notwithstanding the diversity of its population.

I have worked with many bodies that had been reluctant to change their ways of working on my recommendation citing that it would be contrary to their long established equal opportunity policies.    When I pointed out that the body in question notably lacked diversity in its ranks despite years of following these so-called equality policies, the light dawned and willingness to change followed.

I would respectfully suggest that your organisation could achieve much more by challenging monitoring and policy to actually deliver change, rather than to being ends in themselves.  Providing comfort to Brent Council by making an award to it (bad enough that it is one of two finalists!) would run completely counter to what BITC is supposed to stand for.

In the event that you are not familiar with the background to the uproar over ths issue by Brent residents and staff, I attach a couple of links for your information.  It is utterly unspeakable that Brent Council made no move to initiate disciplinary proceedings against its HR Director, Cara Davani, in the light of the Watford Employment Tribunal having found against her for race discrimination and victimisation.  No amount of statistical monitoring of diversity can eliminate the contempt which Brent Council has shown to its workforce by its having left this very HR DIrector in charge of a redundancy programme involving large numbers of (non-management grade) BME staff.    

WEMBLEY MATTERS: Tribunal finds employee suffered race discrimination, victimisation and constructive dismissal at hands of Brent Council

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WEMBLEY MATTERS: Tribunal finds employee suffered...
The Employment Tribunals has announced its judgment in the case of Rosemary Clarke versus the London Borough of Brent and Ms Cara Davani, Brent's Director of...

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WEMBLEY MATTERS: Brent Council Race Equality Award condemned

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WEMBLEY MATTERS: Brent Council Race Equality Awar...
Following yesterday's revelation that Brent Council was a finalist for a Race for Opportunity award the organisation has received messages from local people about t...

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Yours sincerely,

Nan Tewari


Anonymous said...

Here here Nan. It's all a load of bull. Heard Brent is now ' working towards ‘Excellent’ level of the LGA’s Equality Framework for Local Government' ain't that funny? Apparently in the CEO's latest blog Brent is on the cusp of Excellent. You could not make it up.

Anonymous said...

I sent BitC a copy of my open letter to Equalities Committee (see guest blog of 10 July below) for information, and they have thanked me for sharing it with them.

Twenty four hours after sending it, I have not yet received any response from the Equalities Committee members, but I hope that they will read it, and consider my advice to withdraw their nomination for this "Race for Opportunity" award at their meeting on Monday.

Philip Grant.

Anonymous said...

In a tick box world all you have to do is tick the boxes

Anonymous said...

In a tick box world all anyone has to do is tick the boxes

Anonymous said...

A joke! But, hey ho, let's hope FOI requests are entered and an Equalities investigation is done to establish how many staff expressed concerns about bullying and harassment (including formal & informal) since 2012 and what was done about them.

Nan. said...

...... and in the world of tick-boxes, Brent is pre-eminent.

Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group said...

Namesake watch: the Sandra Kerr OBE here is not Sandra Kerr, folksinger who sang on the Bagpuss TV series. Here is Sandra Kerr, folksinger on youtube.

And here she is at Brent's Tricycle Theatre with Frankie Armstrong and Leon Rosselson.

Anonymous said...

What a joke!

Anonymous said...

Just going through the motions, eh!?

Anonymous said...

No real analysis or accountability..GRRR!