Luton- Year of progress on equality, diversity and inclusion

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Councillors in Luton have welcomed another year of progress on equality, diversity and inclusion.

They have marked the second anniversary of the council’s trailblazing Black Lives Matter Motions which were passed in January 2021 following the protests marking the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Councillors welcomed the launch of the Fairness Strategy Our Journey Towards Social Justice and agreed the priorities for the year ahead:

  • launching an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) network for Luton
  • achieving a consistent approach to how we collect and monitor EDI data
  • strengthening our own EDI coordinator team to develop their roles and continued impact
  • immproving council service planning to ensure fairness is a core component
  • building on the work of Luton’s Fairness Task Force and continuing to work closely with our voluntary and community sector partners

Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, leader of Luton Council, said: “This is an opportunity for us to examine the progress we have made over the last year, to learn the lessons from what we have done and to reaffirm that the council is serious about creating a town that is inclusive and fair for all.“We have made progress but we know there remain many challenges and we need to do more to tackle inequality and promote diversity and inclusion.”

Achievements reported to councillors over the last year include:

  • EDI co-ordinators in post and trained to join recruitment interview panels. Improved Integrated Impact Assessments (IIA) to better measure the effects of changes in staff structures or service delivery. EDI is now part of annual plans for Service Directors and equality is now part of every job description
  • over 1,300 members of staff attended unconscious bias e-learning module; we have established recruitment training for managers and a senior leadership programme covering citizen and community engagement and understanding our diverse population
  • 29 per cent of council employees are now from minority ethnic backgrounds, up from 24% in 2019/20 while 21.3% of senior managers identify from a minority ethnic background, up from 18% in March 2021
  • we have developed more accurate data on workforce ethnicity and have seen job applications from people of minority ethnic backgrounds double. We have promoted job opportunities to diverse audiences through community and school events
  • we have signposted schools to our directory of diverse curriculum materials and to organisations including The Black Curriculum. Exclusions have reduced and attainment at Key stage 2 by Black pupils is above the national average in reading, writing and maths
  • we launched the Employment and Skills Strategy for Luton in March 2022, improving access to opportunities, tackling structural barriers and upskilling our residents
  • we supported the Luton Employability Day at The Chiltern Academy in May. This inspirational event, hosted by the Reach Foundation, brought together employers, professionals and role models from the Black community
  • our Building Better Opportunities ‘Support into Employment’ programme has already supported 625 individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds
  • we will also be reviewing issues of disproportional impact in relation to stop and search and use of force implementation with Bedfordshire Police
  • we worked with local community organisers on the Windrush Scheme to promote compensation and reparations, and to press the Home Office on problems with the scheme
  • Luton Rising has supported events that promote awareness and understanding, including the Windrush awards, carnival, Afrofest, BAAKO Festival, the Royal West African Frontier Alliance exhibition and the council supported Sankofa event
  • the council’s principal partner for arts, culture and heritage, The Culture Trust Luton, is diversifying collections, working with specialists to include Windrush projects and exhibitions into the main collections at Wardown and planning a major Windrush 75 event
  • the Culture Trust Luton presented a large and diverse Black History Month programme across the Hat District to over 2,000 people, featuring film, children’s events, community theatre, an outdoor culture market, panel discussions, and live music
  • Luton is the first town to become a ‘Marmot Town’, working with UCL Institute of Health Equity to reduce health inequalities
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