country, more needs to be done to improve diversity and equality in
local authorities, according to new government research published
The research, carried out by the Office of Public Management,
highlights some of the obstacles to effective handling of equality
and diversity issues.
The main findings of the research were:
- There are examples of good practice and a real commitment to
equality and diversity in many authorities. However, the overall
picture nationwide is patchy.
- Equality and diversity is often seen in terms of ethnic minorities
and people with physical disabilities rather than looking at wider
issues such as gender, sexuality and part-time workers.
- There is a lack of a joined up approach within local government to
handle equality and diversity issues; there is still a focus on
employment issues rather than the wider agenda.
- Focus on process rather than outcomes - it is not enough to appoint
a 'diversity officer' - councils need to make sure their policies
are having an effect.
Local government minister Phil Hope said:
'Diverse workplaces are an important part of modern local government
- and central government too. We all need to do more to promote these
'We are not paying lip service to these ideals - we want there to be
real change. We want councils to reflect the communities they serve.
'This research provides local authorities with examples of good
practice to inspire and inform them. There is some good work being
done, and we mustn't forget local government has been at the
forefront of the equality and diversity agenda for more than 20
years. But there is a lot more that needs to be done. This research
shows where action is needed.
'We are now going to set up a series of seminars to help local
government tackle the problems shown up by t he research.'
1) The research focused on three core areas of responsibility for
local government. Firstly, representation, participation and
leadership. Secondly, structures and staff and finally, service
procurement, delivery and impact. The research, carried out over four
months, aimed to provide initial information about equality and
diversity practice in local government and to begin to explore what
seems to be working in each if the three areas and why.
2) The report Equality and Diversity in Local Government is based on
research commissioned by ODPM and carried out by the Office for
Public Management (OPM). For the research, OPM surveyed local
authorities in England (52% response rate) and undertook 10 case
studies as well as interviewing 20 local government and equalities
experts. The survey was undertaken jointly with the DIALOG team from
the Employers' Organisation.
3) The launch of the report is supported by the Local Government
Association, the Employers' Organisation and the Audit Commission.
4) The event was chaired by Laura Willoughby, who is chair ofthe
Local Government Association's equalities executive. Ms Willoughby
is a councillor at Islington LBC.
5) The report and a summary of the report is available on the
6) Copies of the report (priced £18) and summary (free of charge) can
be obtained from:
PO Box 236
West Yorkshire LS23 7NB
Tel: 0870 1226 236
Fax: 0870 1226 237
For further information about the research, contact:
Local and Regional Government Research Unit
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
London SW1E 5DU.
Tel: 020 7944 4096
Fax: 020 7944 5183