Wakefield Council needs more disabled staff to reflect local population, report says

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Wakefield Council needs to employ more disabled staff if it's to be reflective of local people, a report has said.

An analysis of equality and diversity within the council, published this month, said the council had a disproportionately "low number" of disabled employees.

The same report, which was written by the council itself, suggested there was a gender imbalance within the local authority too, with women making up 70 per cent of staff.

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However, the findings also said that the council's demographics, "Broadly reflects the composition of the district in terms of ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith and marital status."

The Wakefield One building, where hundreds of council employees are based in non-lockdown times.The Wakefield One building, where hundreds of council employees are based in non-lockdown times.
The Wakefield One building, where hundreds of council employees are based in non-lockdown times.

But Councillor Nadeem Ahmed, who leads Wakefield's opposition Conservative group, said more needed to be done to make the organisation more diverse.

Coun Ahmed said: "If you look in the upper echelons of the council and at director level, representation of ethnic minorities is lacking.

"Whether that's because they're applying and not getting through, or they're just not applying in the first place I don't know.

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"It's not just a Wakefield problem, I think representation is an issue across West Yorkshire councils and at big organisations in Wakefield.

"We have some very good council officers and the best person for the job should always get the job. But there is a problem there and I think it needs to be addressed.

"It's not going to go away in the short or medium term."

The report was put before the council's audit committee on Monday, though no councillors offered any comments on it during the meeting.

The committee was told that staff had been given specific training relating to racism last year and that the local authority does meet the Equality Act with its policies and procedures.

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In response to Coun Ahmed's comments, the council leader Denise Jeffery, said: "This is an important issue for us and we are developing and already driving forward a range of initiatives that support equality, diversity and inclusion at the council.

"The actions we are taking include ensuring policies are supportive of black and ethnic minority (BAME) colleagues and provide greater opportunities to gain leadership and management qualifications.

"We have also improved training in our induction and recruitment programmes – by highlighting awareness of unconscious bias and equalities."

Coun Jeffery also said that a staff forum for BAME employees had been set up to allow them to express views on the council's inclusion policies in a "safe and confidential" environment.

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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