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MINISTER URGES COUNCILS TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY

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Although there are real examples of good working practices across the ...
Although there are real examples of good working practices across the

country, more needs to be done to improve diversity and equality in

local authorities, according to new government research published

today.

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

issues.

'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.'

Notes

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

ODPM website.

6) Copies of the report (priced £18) and summary (free of charge) can

be obtained from:

Publications Centre

PO Box 236

Wetherby

West Yorkshire LS23 7NB

Tel: 0870 1226 236

Fax: 0870 1226 237

Email: odpm@twoten.press.net

For further information about the research, contact:

Sarah Morgan,

Local and Regional Government Research Unit

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Eland House

Bressenden Place

London SW1E 5DU.

Tel: 020 7944 4096

Fax: 020 7944 5183

Email: Sarah.Morgan@odpm.gsi.gov.uk

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