The Chairperson raised an issue which he felt would be remiss if it was not mentioned within an Equalities Committee, that is the FIFA World Cup that took place in Qatar. The Chairperson consulted with the monitoring officer the day before the meeting. He expressed his congratulations to the Welsh men's football team and the FA of Wales for their successful campaign in the World Cup. He stated he felt it was important that they did not ignore what had been created by the authorities in Qatar and the duplicity of FIFA in holding it in such a repressive nation. He said that football had not always been a place where LGBTQ+ people have felt welcome, however the work, including the Welsh FA, had much to change with the culture and attitudes in the game. He stated that support for LGBTQ people isn't something that can be rolled out when convenient. Consideration had to be given to people whose human rights are being violated by a nation, as they had been given a global platform that demonstrated intolerance and this shouldn't be acceptable in 2022. FIFA should be using its influence to improve human rights, not to ignore them.
The Chairperson then invited the Consultation, Engagement and Equalities Manager to submit the report.
The Consultation, Engagement and Equalities Manager stated that the purpose of the report was to provide an update on the work completed within the Strategic Equality plan 2022-2024 and the period 2021-2022 and went through the report.
The Chairperson invited questions on the report.
The Deputy Leader queried that as it was White Ribbon Day the week of the meeting whether BCBC held accreditation as an employer as it previously did.
The CEE Manager responded that BCBC’s accreditation has lapsed, but the domestic violence team manager is looking into renewing accreditation for the 2023.
The Deputy Leader also queried with reference to unconscious bias, critical thinking and hidden disabilities with 24 delegates attending the training, out of a head count of employees where BCBC has 1232 males and 4655 female in a head count, she queried if 24 was an aspirational figure or if the thought was to be putting this through the workforce a bit more.
The Group Manager Human Resources and Organisational Development, stated that there had been other training taking place that was not detailed in the report. The report is a “snapshot”. The Group Manager Human Resources and Organisational Development accepted that the numbers looked extremely low when compared to the overall size of the Council's workforce. She pointed out that it is not reflective of training that had been undertaken previously by other by employees and as such is not cumulative figure.
The figures reflect what had occurred during the reporting period on specific courses highlighted as part of the SEP, she assured members that if required, at a further date, HR could bring a more detailed report on training attendance.
The Chairperson added that he and the CCE Manager have had conversations with the charity Chwarae Teg to establish there was something that they can do to assist.
The Deputy Leader, stated she was aware that everything was not listed and appreciates the information available is only a snapshot. She stressed on the requirement to get more staff trained in particular issues to have a better impact on the communities, especially when responding to residents.
The Cabinet Member for Communities, stated that during discussions in relation to refurbishing play areas and there had been many questions around inclusion, and as an example inclusive accessible equipment. He also added that he had recently inquired about accessibility to play areas for those diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. He stated he felt a need not just for officers but Members to receive training to understand the full scope of disabilities and the challenges that were being faced.
The Chairperson added that he was aware that The Group Manager for Sports and Physical Activity – Prevention and Wellbeing in the Social Services directorate had undertaken a great deal of work to ensure that there is adequate provision across the borough. Time had been taken to speak with individuals within the borough who would use these play areas and there was attention to ensure that it reflected their needs. He felt confident that a lot of work had been undertaken was based on evidence and not just dependent on individual Members. He mentioned the expectation that an update in the form of report was due to be received in cabinet in this regard.
A Member queried if they would have access to the full report and a breakdown of where the Group Manager’s findings are to show where the gaps are.
The Chairperson responded that based on his scheduled regular update he had been made aware that a full report is expected which can then be scrutinized by full council. He reassured the Member that they will receive what he believes to be a very exhaustive report that will answer many questions.
The Leader stated that he welcomed that BCBC have retained their status as a disability, confident employer. Having interviewed and appointed to roles as a result of our collaboration with Remploy, he would be interested in the extent and the progress made in this area. He stated that unemployment was still higher amongst people with disabilities. He mentioned he was pleased to see progress made but added it would be helpful to understand the extent of that progress and determine if more could be done along partners in the public sector.
The Leader mentioned the significance of fulfilling work life as it can be very important to people's quality of life and the equality of opportunity particularly so for people with disabilities.
Redirected to the Group Manager Human Resources and Organisational Development who acknowledged, responding to the Leader that she agreed there was always more that could be done. She stated that the numbers of people who have been successful in employment through the work with Remploy were relatively small, but it was considered success itself and that work needed to be continued. As part of the achieving the disability status, a Confidence award meant that BCBC gives priority to applicants who have a disability to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements for a role, they receive an interview. She acknowledged the importance of working with partners.
A member thanked the team for the report. He stated it was useful for members to see a snapshot in time of the makeup of the workforce of the authority. He mentioned, in terms of grievance, that there has been some hyper analysis sickness across protected characteristics. He queried if a study had been undertaken and whether or not any particularly prevalent themes have been drawn out that sickness in any one population group has been identified.
The Group Manager Human Resources and Organisational Development responded to state that HR did not have such an analysis. They were responding to the guidance in terms of information they were required to report on and they were the main themes that HR covered. She agreed it would be an interesting analysis and possibly something HR could look to do going forward. She stated that HR currently undertake quite a lot of analysis around absence. She said she felt it was something they could pick up going forward though currently not required to report on that as with other areas within this report.
RESOLVED: The recommendation is that the Cabinet Committee Equalities takes note of the progress made.