We conducted an EEDI Audit and this is what we learnt

Jun 16, 2022

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Over the last year, the Public Practice team has changed. This has provided an opportunity for the organisation to pause, reflect and learn about how it could truly create an inclusive culture whilst preparing to go beyond established best practices.

As an organisation, we are committed to Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EEDI). We want to foster a culture where the Board and all employees can bring their whole selves to work safely and confidently, to reach their true potential and feel included. In addition, we want to ensure that the work we do with Authorities and Associates on place-shaping also represents and demonstrates the same culture and values.

We took an evidence-based approach and worked with expert EEDI consultants Versify, to undertake an independent audit of the organisation. This entailed reviewing feedback from recent leavers, an anonymous survey with all Directors and employees, one-to-one interviews with each team member and a focus group with the Board. Based on the learnings they shared a report stating that the organisation was beginning to make positive gains. They also provided recommendations for how the organisation needed to continue developing actions and clarify roles and responsibilities. This would improve and embed practice at Board and employee levels and enable an environment where people can thrive.

As a small organisation, whose values include pragmatism without the dampening of ambition, we discussed how important it was that the strategy and prioritisation of recommendations needed to be co-designed and owned by everyone in the team. Working with expert facilitators Align, we have created a safe space to work through this process, based on our values of ‘openness, trust and respect’. We have co-shaped a six-month plan for medium-term actions, whilst giving us time to create a three-year strategy that will align with our Corporate Strategy.

For now, we have prioritised developing a clear team policy, including clarification of roles and responsibilities, ensuring clear performance feedback systems and a flexible working approach. However, working on operational changes alone doesn’t make for transformational change. In parallel, we want to learn about and understand the context of unequal systems we are working within. We have come up with three different ways of monthly learning, and crowdsourcing topics as a team:

  • History: Understanding the historical context of complex issues. Educating ourselves on what happened in the past can help us make a more informed approach to addressing discrimination in the present.

  • How to: Practical advice on understanding specific challenges that some of us may face. This can help us empathise with, as well as actively support colleagues who may be experiencing these challenges.

  • Personal: Creating a safe space for colleagues to share personal narratives or reflections that can help us facilitate transformational change, as we learnt from this podcast ‘Inclusivity at Work: The Heart of Hard conversations.

And finally, we want to foster and sustain a supportive, open and friendly culture. We now go on monthly team away days, visiting different parts of the country and continuously checking how we live our values both internally, and also through the work we do in public.

Truly embedding EEDI in day-to-day practice is easier said than done, but small steps and big steps need to be taken in parallel. Through our collectively designed strategy, we hope to create an inclusive environment for each one of us to feel safe, be confident and reach our full potential. This will help us to fulfil our mission of building public sector capability to improve the quality, equality and sustainability of places.

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