By Holly Pembridge, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, National Assembly for Wales
This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion Week in the Assembly, which is a series of events and other awareness-raising activities to promote and celebrate us being a diverse and inclusive organisation. We will post a new blog article each day this week. As part of this week, it therefore seems an apt time to reflect on the work that has gone into nurturing an inclusive organisational culture since the Assembly was established. As we begin to develop a new Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Plan for the Fifth Assembly, we look at how we can continue to build equality, diversity and inclusion considerations into our role as an employer and as an organisation that interacts with the people of Wales.
Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Vision and Values
Our vision is to be an exemplar organisation in our commitment to promoting equality, valuing diversity and respecting human rights. Our values include the notion that equality of opportunity for all is a basic human right and actively oppose all forms of discrimination. We strive to create an accessible parliamentary body, which engages with and respects all of the people of Wales.
“I believe it is important that the Assembly leads the way in promoting an inclusive organisational culture and that it is a modern, accessible parliamentary body with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact. It is incumbent on us as the National Assembly for Wales to lead on this and share our experiences, ensuring that the values of equality, diversity and inclusion are respected and practiced by all, ” said Elin Jones AM, LLywydd, National Assembly for Wales.
Fostering an inclusive, collaborative organisational culture
Here, we are keen to ensure that people can realise their full potential and make contributions when they can be themselves in their working environment. To this end, we organise awareness-raising information and events regularly in order to generate discussion and promote an inclusive culture where difference is celebrated and valued. One way in which the Assembly has signalled to its workforce that it is committed to doing this is by encouraging the establishment of self-managed workplace equality networks. We have networks for LGBT people and their allies; disabled people and their allies, people who identify as Black Minority Ethnic (BME) and their allies; people who identify as working parents and carers; and women and men. People who contribute to the networks do so in addition to their day jobs. It is safe to say that the existence of networks helps to promote inter-cultural insight, foster good relations and offer solutions when barriers to inclusion might arise or have the potential to arise. The concepts of peer support and providing a ‘safe space’ where people can raise issues or offer suggestions for improvement are invaluable and we have examples of where workplace policies and practices have been enhanced. For more information about the Assembly’s workplace equality networks, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Engaging with a diverse range of people inside and outside the Assembly
Having a highly visible Diversity and Inclusion team dedicated to the co-ordination of this work across the Assembly has been beneficial for two reasons in particular. Firstly, good practice and collaborative working with colleagues across the different teams can ensure that we are constantly striving as an organisation to maintain and enhance an inclusive organisational culture. Secondly, we have been able to work with teams across the Assembly and involve people from both in and outside the Assembly to optimise our accessibility to the people of Wales. Our Outreach Team works with individuals and organisations from communities across Wales, raising awareness of the work of the Assembly and encouraging people to become involved in its work.
As a Diversity and Inclusion Team, we value the opportunities we have had to share best practice and learn from others both inside and outside of the Assembly. It is crucial that organisations share where things have worked well and not so well; it saves time and energy and can help to re-focus priorities.