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Council signs up to industry standard for race relations

Fri, 31/01/2020

Westminster City Council has signed up to the industry standard for good race relations at work – putting it in the company of giants like Shell and Marks & Spencer.

The Race at Work Charter, overseen by trade body Business in the Community, is for organisations which voluntarily agree to meet a set of five standards. These including include appointing a company champion for race, ensuring the most up to date ethnicity data is recorded and acting to support ethnic minority career progression.

More than 100 organisations, ranging from building societies to banks, have so far signed up to support scheme. Westminster City Council joins a growing number public sector organisations keen to extend their backing.

The move comes as Westminster City Council continues with a major drive to ensure the authority is more representative of the community it serves.

The council’s action so far - which reflects the five Charter standards - includes:

  • The chief executive is the executive sponsor for race
  • Using diversity data during the annual reward step-up process to ensure equity
  • Measuring bullying and harassment in the annual staff survey and putting plans in place to tackle any areas of concern
  • A reverse mentoring programme that so far covers 50 senior leaders across the council
  • Launching positive action for all middle and senior leadership roles to ensure there is at least one BAME person on every shortlist

Stuart Love, chief executive of Westminster City Council, said: “ When I became head of this organisation at the start of 2018, I made it clear that we were on a long-term journey to restructure how this organisation works. For too long, we did not look like the diverse range of people we serve, and senior jobs were rarely taken by BAME staff – that is wholly unacceptable.

“Since we launched our positive action approach last April, some 40 per cent of roles overall have been filled by people from a BAME background. We still have a long way to go, but signing up to the Charter is another sign of our commitment to this transformation.”

Westminster City Council staff are encouraged to read Business in the Community’s online guide Let’s Talk About Race as a way to approach conversations at work.

Stuart said: “I think that too often in work places there is an over-anxiety about talking about race that leads to useful discussions being stifled - people stay silent or skirt around the issue.

“That doesn’t benefit anyone. Courteous but clear conversations allow us to learn from each other. They are good for the culture we aspire to and make good business sense.”


Last updated: 31 January 2020