As the latest Public Sector Equality Duty Report highlights alarming diversity and inclusion figures across the emergency services, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) responds with positive change.
The 2018/2019 Report highlighted that women represent 20% of the workforce, accounting for 181 employees, while men represent 80%, with 710 male employees. In operational roles this is significantly less, with female colleagues representing only 5.9% of the workforce. 51% of the county of Derbyshire is female and DFRS are ultimately aspiring to reflect this figure in our workforce.
In terms of ethnic diversity, the most common ethnicity amongst our workforce is ‘White British or Irish’, followed by ‘Asian or Asian British’, ‘Any Other White Background’ and ‘Mixed’ heritage. The BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) profile of operational staff is 2.4% (16), which is a slight increase when compared to the previous year.
Committed to leading the sector through positive change DFRS has recruited over 40 Positive Action Champions to work as role models, alongside operational crews, members of the fire service and our fire authority members, working hard to raise awareness of DFRS as an inclusive employer of choice. These Champions attend events in schools and within the wider community, focusing on broader aspects of recruitment and raising awareness amongst our communities, including females, minority ethnic groups and LGBT+ who are under-represented in our workforce.
In so doing, DFRS enlisted diversity and inclusion specialists RightTrack Learning to design and facilitate sector-specific workshops to support the drive towards our vision for a more diverse working community.
Almost 100 key staff, from Chief Fire Officer to Appointing Officers and Heads of Department attended the learning programme. The training event explored equality, diversity and inclusion and how our unconscious biases impact these in the workplace.
RightTrack Learning’s interactive development programme enabled those who attended to appreciate that once awareness of bias is raised, from the unconscious to the conscious level, attitudes and behaviours can change. But most importantly, individuals could seek to contribute to a positive Fire and Rescue Service culture, whilst undertaking our operational duties and interacting with colleagues and the wider workforce.
With a focused drive for improvement DFRS has seen impressive results:
- Overall there has been a significant increase in applicants, with 358 invited for interviews and 146 appointments made
- 95% of all applicants feel confident to disclose their sexual orientation, including 95 who identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or other
- 7.5% (118) of all applicants stated their ethnicity as other than White British
- Female applications across all roles have increased from 25% to 37%
- Women now account for 30% of all successful applicants
Head of Diversity & Inclusion at DFRS Marc Redford said: “We truly believe we cannot be what we cannot see, so to this end, we actively encourage firefighters to go into schools and communities and talk about their own positive roles in the emergency services.”
RightTrack Learning has specialised in the creative design and delivery of bespoke learning solutions for more than 30 years. We support businesses with integrated learning strategies and unique people development solutions. Providing bespoke solutions on everything from Inclusive Leadership and Unconscious Bias to Customer Service, Sales and Mindfulness in the workplace. For more information visit www.righttracklearning.com or call 0121 222 7313.
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