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The Workforce Partnership Council (WPC) is a tripartite social partnership structure of the trade unions, employers and Welsh Government covering the devolved public services in Wales and the forum for workforce matters across public services.
The WPC recognises the important role that diversity monitoring data plays in driving forward initiatives to achieve equality in the workplace. For this reason, the WPC is issuing this joint statement following a review of 3 devolved public service organisations (a local authority, a health board and a Welsh Government Sponsored Body). It reflects our commitment to promote fair work and equality within the workplace and to share best practice arrangements to improve services across Wales. The WPC advises devolved sector bodies to review their current monitoring arrangements and to consider how they can be improved to provide more impactful insights. It also encourages public bodies to act upon the data it collects to progress equality within the workplace and identify areas where improvement is needed.
Importance of diversity monitoring
Under the Public Sector Equality Duty (Equality Act 2010), public sector bodies are required to monitor and report employment information against 9 protected characteristics on an annual basis.
However, the importance of diversity monitoring goes beyond legal compliance and can contribute to organisations becoming more representative of the communities they serve, better organisational performance, and improved public service delivery.
Monitoring workforce equality, diversity and inclusion data allows organisations to develop evidence-based equality objectives and to understand the impact of existing policies and initiatives on the workforce. Diversity monitoring also identifies risk areas of discrimination and allows the organisation to respond appropriately.
Low levels of staff disclosure can be a common issue for organisations when carrying out diversity monitoring exercises. Several factors can affect this including staff concerns regarding the potential implications of sharing their data as well as a lack of awareness in relation to the rationale for collecting this information.
To tackle some of these issues, organisations can take measures to understand concerns experienced by staff so that specific action can be taken. Providing a rationale for diversity monitoring and clearly setting out how the information will be used to have a positive impact on staff may also encourage staff to complete their information. Organisations can also make use of key stakeholders to communicate the importance of diversity monitoring including senior leaders, trade unions and staff networks. They may also consider alternative mediums of communication to encourage a greater response rate.
The WPC recognises the value of diversity monitoring data not only as a way of pinpointing organisations’ current positions in terms of diversity and inclusion but also to direct initiatives that will be most impactful to the workforce. The WPC encourages devolved sector bodies to:
- Identify the protected characteristics where disclosure rates are comparatively low.
- Conduct communication campaigns to increase the data held in these areas. This should include a clear rationale for diversity monitoring and assurance that information is collected anonymously.
- Commit to publishing diversity monitoring data in a clear and consistent way that allows comparison between annual datasets.
- Identify how the data can be used to direct initiatives or set equality objectives that can positively affect the workforce and increase representation across the organisation.