This week United Response received the extremely welcome news that we have again been accredited by Investors in Diversity as having reached stage 2 of their exacting standards, reflecting the many efforts put in over many years to ensuring our workforce is diverse and valued.
There are some who dismiss charity’s commitment to the idea of diversity as mere political correctness, but that is to overlook the real value that a diverse workforce provides. It means that we have the widest possible pool of people from which to choose our staff, ensuring that nobody who can contribute is ever excluded. And as our society grows ever more diverse and with it the people we support, United Response, needs to have a staff of similar diversity who are able to understand their unique needs.
It was our desire to ensure that equality and diversity was at the heart of our work as a support provider, but also our role as an employer, which led us to set up a staff steering group on diversity in 2008. Led by the managing director and supported by members of the director’s team, other senior managers and front line staff, the group was tasked with looking at the effectiveness of United Response’s policies and practices in promoting diversity.
A clear statement on diversity was incorporated into United Response’s mission, vision and values statements, emphasising the fundamental importance of diversity and equality to every aspect of the charity’s work. Key to this was the right of all individuals, whether people supported by United Response, or staff, to be treated with dignity and respect.
Across the organisation, staff were encouraged to share best practice examples of supporting people to celebrate diversity and their right to be treated equally, and these regularly feature in our staff magazine. In Manchester, those who expressed an interest were supported to take part in the city’s Pride Festival, for example. In Bradford, where it was recognised that we were supporting an increasing number of people from the Muslim faith, a piece of work was carried out to ensure Muslims were included in our staff team. This was particularly significant for one man, who had found it difficult to attend mosque and fully practise his religion previously.
We are determined as a charity, support provider and an employer to keep building on what we have achieved so far in this area. But there is no room for complacency. For any organisation to be fit for purpose in the 21st century – particularly those in the social care sector – equality and diversity must underpin everything we do and everything we stand for.
Jaime Gill, head of press and public affairs.