Agenda item

RBC Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and Plan


The Committee considered a report that presented the draft Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Plan.  A copy of the draft Strategy and Plan was attached to the report at Appendix A, a comparison of the current workforce against the most recent census (2021), including information about ‘prefer not to say’/’do not want to declare’ statistics was attached at Appendix B and the outcomes from the Big Conversation on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion was attached to the report at Appendix C.

The report explained that the Council was actively working to develop its approach to inclusion and diversity and to become a more inclusive employer.  The Council had been working on its inclusion agenda for several years and had sought advice and insight from its own workforce and from external specialists, working to understand where it needed to improve and what its priorities should be.  Reading was a diverse and vibrant place with pockets of affluence and deprivation and most of the people who worked for the Council were local.  More than half the workforce (54%) lived in the Borough and a further 27% were from nearby RG postcodes, a total of 81%.  The aim would be to have a workforce that reflected and understood the communities it served and to be seen as an employer of choice within the communities, one that valued inclusion and diversity, and the different perspectives they brought. 

Throughout the Strategy reference was made to Inclusion and Diversity.  This was deliberate and reflected the strong feedback that had been received from staff, leaders and managers, as well as reflecting best practice.  The Council’s external specialists, Inclusive Employers, had advised that achieving full inclusion was the important first goal, as when inclusion was delivered, diversity and equality would naturally follow.  The Strategy focused on the inclusion and diversity of both the current and future workforce.  However, it was clear that some groups experience of discrimination demanded additional focus.  Work on racism had been framed through the lens of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development’s definition, as follows:

“Whilst workplace inclusion was essential, racism needed to be expressly addressed, given the long standing lack of progress on race equality in society and workplaces.  It needed to be named and consciously addressed alongside, and separate to, an overarching commitment to inclusion.”

The Action Plan therefore ensured work would be carried out early on embedding the Council’s ambition as well as the approach to the recruitment, support and development of disabled staff.  Further work would then focus on the other protected characteristics.

The report explained that work on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) agenda had been underway since late 2020 following a motion that had been passed by Council on 20 October 2020 (Minute 7 refers) on Tackling Employment Inequality.  This work had been enhanced following a report by the consultants Business in the Community who had been commissioned to review the Council’s approach to EDI.  Tangible progress had been made particularly in terms of the equality and diversity agenda and this was set out in the report.

The draft Strategy outlined the plans over the next three years to develop the inclusion and diversity work which would enable the Council to progress towards being a fully inclusive organisation and it was of key importance that everyone recognised that inclusion and diversity was everyone’s responsibility.  The fundamental requirement was for everyone who worked for the Council to understand what the Strategy aimed to achieve and their role in delivering it.

The report detailed the current diversity position and summarised feedback from The Big Conversation, an engagement event that had taken place with staff during June and July 2023.

The report explained that the work to understand the views and opinions of the workforce, the demographic analysis and the actions suggested by the Inclusion Maturity model had been crafted into both an Action Plan and an Ambition Statement for Inclusion and Diversity that set out the Council’s ambition as follows:

“An inclusive culture where we can all do our best work and can thrive”

Finally, the report set out what would be done to achieve this ambition.

The Committee discussed the report and thanked officers in HR for their work on the Strategy, Action Plan and The Big Conversation and Councillor Terry for driving the work forward.  The Committee also asked that they received a report annually on the progress of the Strategy and Action Plan.


(1)       That the proposed Inclusion and Diversity Strategy and Plan, attached to the report at Appendix A, be agreed;

(2)       That a report be submitted to the Committee annually on the progress of the Diversity Strategy and Action Plan.

Supporting documents: