By Abi Lasebikan, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Network Coordinator and Co-Chair of the Assembly’s Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage Workplace Equality Network
The National Day for Staff Networks will be the UK’s first ever day dedicated to celebrating all workplace networks, recognising the value and contribution networks provide to organisations and the fact that networks are making work better.
The day aims to encourage staff networks to celebrate collaboratively and shout about their achievements, and to change the conversation about workplace networks so that they are seen as business critical and effective mechanisms of innovation and inclusion.
Our networks are referred to as Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to reflect the fact that they are open to all Assembly Members, AMSS, Commission staff and employees of our on-site contractors to join either members or as allies. They are a place for people who identify with a protected characteristic group and/or have an interest in matters relating to a particular diversity strand, to come together. We recognise that anyone, not only those directly affected, can have an interest in a particular equality issue.
The Assembly recognises that the WENs are instrumental in helping the organisation to attain its aim to achieve a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment for all and to be a democratic institution and legislature that delivers effectively for all the people of Wales. We acknowledge that the participation of our networks is therefore a critical part of the employment relationship and not an addition function to an employee’s job description.
We are therefore pleased to take part in the day, with the WENs organising activities and articles to promote the networks and our recognition of their value to us.
What are the benefits of the WENs for the organisation?
They serve as effective consultative and advisory bodies on diversity related matters, acting as critical agents for change within the organisation. The insight these networks provide helps us to:
- Understand the value in managing and harnessing the potential of an increasingly diverse workforce.
- Recruit and retain the most talented people, because we believe happier employees who can be themselves results in an organisation that performs better and is therefore better able to attract and retain top talent.
- Provide the best service to stakeholders.
- Make a positive difference to the working culture of the Assembly.
“As the Senior Mental Health Champion I have been hugely impressed with the commitment the staff in the mental health network have shown….. The network is a really important way for senior managers in the Assembly to understand how we can support our staff to manage working here with a mental health condition.” Sian Wilkins, Head of Chamber and Committee Service and Mental Health Champion
“As the lead director for the draft Official languages scheme I met with the Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (REACH) staff network to discuss it, as they had provided a written contribution to our Equality impact assessment of the OLS. I heard first-hand how the issues impacted on the members, suggestions about what might be done differently and the benefits of working together. I personally thought this added value to the whole process and led to some further actions. I believe such collaboration will ensure a fairer and more inclusive scheme. I value the contribution our staff networks make to fostering an inclusive working culture on our estate that supports and values the diversity of the workforce and where people feel comfortable, respected and appreciated.” Craig Stephenson, Director of Commission Services
“For me, the Assembly’s Staff Networks and their achievements are a cause for pride. Their existence and contribution shows us to be a mature, caring, sensitive and tolerant organisation. Long may they flourish!” Dave Tosh, Director of Resources and Black Minority Ethnic Champion
“The networks embody the value we place on people’s thoughts, observations and areas for improvement, and in my role as Head of HR, their collective dedication to taking an active role in the continuous improvement of our Assembly is invaluable, both personally and professionally.” Lowri Williams, Head of HR
The Networks have contributed to and raised the profile of the organisation in a variety of ways. They have:
- Input into many impact assessment of policies and projects, such as the Accessible Car Parking policy, Human Resources Priority Postings policy, EFM refurbishments projects, etc.
- Attended events, like: Pride and Sparkle, Stonewall Cymru’s Workplace Equality Index Awards, All Wales Annual Race Equality Conference, Mela, etc.
- Participated in community incentives, like collecting for the Cardiff Foodbank.
- Produced a range of blogs, factsheets and guidance on a variety of topics, such as: Ramadan, Cultural Diversity, Invisible Disabilities, Bisexual Awareness, Mental Health, etc.
- Worked closely with other public sector organisations, such as Gwent and South Wales Police, Welsh Government, Cardiff University, to promote diversity and inclusion.
Which is just a flavor of the impressive achievements of the networks.
Our current networks are:
EMBRACE – our disability network. It’s open to disabled people, those who support disabled people and people with an interest in disability equality. Within EMBRACE are a dyslexia and chronic pain group. Chaired by Abi Phillips
INSPIRE – our women’s network. It’s open to both men and women. Co-chaired by Sarah Crosbie and Janette Iliffe. Contact them by emailing email@example.com
OUT-NAW – our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) network. It is a closed group for LGBT people, but open to people with an interest in LGBT equality as allies. Co-chaired by Craig Stephenson and Lisa Bowkett
TEULU – our Working Parent and Carer network, is currently a virtual network that operates mainly online. New network members and network allies are always welcome. Co-chaired by Holly Pembridge and Joel Steed
REACH – The Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage network is our Black Minority Ethnic (BME) network. It is open to BME people as members and people who support race equality as allies. Co-chaired by Abi Lasebikan and Raz Roap. Contact them by emailing Reach.BMENetwork@Assembly.Wales
To find out more about our workplace equality networks go to our ‘Recruitment – Diversity’ Webpage. Alternatively, contact the Chairs, Diversity and Inclusion Team or Network Coordinator Abi Lasebikan.
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