Saturday 20 February 2016

New Brent HR Director must ensure equalities are upheld as more job losses loom

Yesterday was the deadline for applications to be the Director of Brent Council Human Relations. The post was of course extremely controversial when held by Cara Davani with the Employment Tribunal judgment finding that the Council racially discriminated against against a member of staff,  victimised her and constructivelyly dismissed her. LINK

Cara Davani later left the Council's employment and attempts to find out the amount of her pay off were unsuccessful.

The new Director will be managing further reductions in Council  staffing  which will have equality implications as this extract from the budget report  LINK shows:

.        8.8.  Driving Organisational Efficiency is proposed to save £4.8m. Transformation of the design and delivery of Early Help will streamline Early Help, focusing on a one family, one worker approach to help build resilience and independence, saving £0.9m. Reviewing staff structures and spans of control across Community Services will save £2.3m. Reviewing support service costs: HR, legal, IT, business support and finance for greater efficiency will save £1m. Other savings totalling £0.6m are shown in Appendix D(iii). Service user and staff consultation will of course be essential to shape the detailed plans of how to achieve these savings, but the current expectation is that they will not impact significantly on the delivery of front-line services.
.        8.9.  Many of the proposals will have an impact on staff, especially where the majority of the saving proposals are made up of staffing costs. Given the scale of staffing reductions, there is potential for these proposals to have a significant impact on the workforce, particularly in Community Services and Resources. The majority of the workforce is from ethnic minority groups (broadly reflecting the ethnic profile of the Borough); there are also some services that due to their nature consist of predominantly female or male members of staff, and it is important that changes are not disproportionate in terms of their impact. Brent’s Managing Change Policy and Procedure provides a framework to be followed during times of organisational change to minimise the risk of a negative impact on any equality groups. The Managing Change Policy requires that staffing changes undergo EA to ensure that the restructure process is conducted in a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

This is the advertisement on PM Jobs for the HR post:

--> HR Director

LB Brent • to £122k

Right now, there’s no more exciting place to be than Brent. Recent years have seen an unprecedented transformation in what we do, how we do it, and even (with the completion of our remarkable new Civic Centre) where it’s done. This sustained infusion of energy and collaboration has resulted in a singularly ambitious strategic vision, making Brent Just Better: Better Locally, a Better Place, and Better Lives. With strong growth projections for the borough over the years to come, our resource position is stronger than most; and we believe there’s the potential to do more here than at any other council.

Our ambition for the HR service is similarly stretching, and we’re determined that the department will play an increasingly important part in the success of the whole organisation. The role covers the full operational and strategic gamut, and there will be some absorbingly complex issues (such as delivery models and structures) on your desk from day one. We’re open-minded about the options, and are committed to thinking differently – but sound evidence, a full business case, and total alignment with our strategic objectives must underpin everything you do.

Candidates will have been consistently outstanding in their career to date, with excellent practical and conceptual abilities, and a strong grasp of the complexities inherent in our operating environment. You should be intellectually strong, with good communication skills and the ability to forge positive working relationships with everyone from elected members to trade unions; a particular strength in communicating and embedding strategic HR priorities will be a definite advantage. Issues such as traded and shared services, culture change, leadership development and workforce planning will all come into sharp focus over the next 12-18 months, and applicants should be able to bring a demonstrable understanding of these and many other aspects.


Anonymous said...

‘Good communication skills’, eh? Anyone know what’s going on in the 3rd sentence:

‘This sustained infusion of energy and collaboration has resulted in a singularly ambitious strategic vision, making Brent Just Better: Better Locally, a Better Place, and Better Lives.’

It reads like a normal bit of vacuous corporation-speak and then goes into a bit of capitalised gibberish. ‘Brent Just Better’. Brent just better what? Brent just better avoid hiring another Davani? Brent ‘Better Locally’? As opposed to Brent better what? Brent better somewhere else, maybe. Brent better in southern Europe with a balmy climate and vineyards and olive trees on the slopes of Neasden, perhaps? Couldn’t argue with that and it’s certainly an ‘ambitious strategic vision’, but is it a realistic aspiration, Mo?

Japanese restaurant chain Itsu plasters the words ‘Eat Beautiful’ outside all their branches; maybe Brent are now using the same marketing consultants. ‘Brent Just Better’ sounds like one of theirs. But Itsu have the excuse that they’re just trying to get you to stuff your face with more raw fish and noodles. They’re not an ‘iconic borough’ demanding ‘good communication skills’ from a potential ‘place shaper’ on a hundred and twenty-two grand a year.
On the other hand ‘good communication skills’ could be nothing to do with clarity of expression at all, I suppose. It could just mean being good at shouting at underlings and knowing how to ring in your absence on doggy show days.

Mike Hine

Nan. said...

"Recent years have seen an unprecedented transformation in what we do, how we do it........"


Philip Grant said...

Readers of this blog, who have not already done so, may like to read the comments on a connected blog of 18 February at:

As Martin so rightly points out above, it is very important that whoever becomes Brent's Director of HR for the next couple of difficult years has the right qualities for dealing with Brent's employees.

No Council, in its right mind, would consider offering the role to Cara Davani, following the events which lead up to her "career break" in June 2015 (almost certainly funded by Brent Council Tax-payers through a secret "pay-off" which the Council went to such lengths to try to cover-up).

We will know the state of Brent Council's mental health after its interviews for the HR Director post on 24 March.


Philip Grant said...

Did the recruitment consultant dealing with this appointment, Shahidul Miah, write this gobbledegook, or did he just "copy and paste" it from somewhere on Brent Council's website?