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Diversity Strategy

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Taken from the speech by Angela Smith MP (Minister for Fire) on 24 May 2007.

The final subject I want to discuss, where working in partnership is important, is equality and diversity. But before I turn to that, I want to sum up what I see as the key characteristics of partnership. I hope you will give them some thought.

Partnership is about plain speaking - and, equally important, plain listening. It is about building up trust so both are possible. To work well, partnerships need excellent communications so people understand what is happening, how they can be involved and where the partnership is heading. And it is about making the most of everyone's talents, knowledge and skills for the benefit of our communities.

There is no doubt that the Fire and Rescue Service has made progress in terms of recognising the needs of our diverse communities on the service delivery side. But so far it has been less successful in creating a workforce that really reflects the diversity of those communities in itself.

I cannot see how the service can continue to make good progress in reducing risks in the communities it services if it fails to attract, recruit and retain people from the widest possible pool of talent among our many communities.

I said at the November Conference that equality and diversity was one of my top priorities. And that I was looking to the newly formed Equality and Diversity Project Board to provide leadership, vision and direction in shaping a new strategy. Even though these annual conferences seem to come around pretty quickly, I am pleased to say they are making good progress.

The Project Board has been developing the new strategy which is a key piece of work. It will set out a 10-year programme for change and make very clear our expectations in this area. It will include:

Leadership
Accountability
Recruitment, retention and progression
Business planning and service delivery
Sharing success and measuring progress.

We hope to be consulting on the draft strategy later this year. Let me say thank you to the Board for taking up this vital challenge. I would also like to thank the many people from across the FRS who have been involved in workshops and focus groups. This has been a true partnership effort and we have been listening very carefully to all the points of view about what the strategy should look like.

Speech by Angela Smith MP on 24 May 2007.

 

 

Taken from the speech by Angela Smith MP at the FIRE 2006 conference held in Telford on 8 November 2006.

Equality and diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service might be the last issue I am talking about but it is right at the top of my list of priorities. I believe it is very difficult for the Fire and Rescue Service to go on being effective in its community work, and even in emergency response work, if the make up of the workforce does not reflect the community it serves. How can you understand the community, build up the deep trust needed and reach the most vulnerable and isolated groups?
Recent research has highlighted some case studies of good practice and the new Equality and Diversity Project Board has now met - chaired by Pete Betts our Director for Fire and Resilience, with Phil Toase representing CFOA and Cllr Les Byrom the LGA. I am looking to the Board to provide leadership, vision and direction - in particular through the service-wide equality and diversity strategy they are developing. Over the next six months this will take shape with wide stakeholder involvement and we hope it will be ready to go out for consultation next June.
Recently I heard that one FRS recruited a hundred new firefighters including just one woman, and I dare not ask about ethnic backgrounds. Promoting equality and diversity calls for good leadership at every level and in every aspect of management.

Speech by Angela Smith MP at the FIRE 2006 conference held in Telford on 8 November 2006. downloaded from http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1504407 on 21-11-07

Can I come and talk to you about three exciting elite-briefing led workshops that are now available to help the fire and rescue service to understand change?