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Adopting a diverse and inclusive approach to improving public services

Illustration of a woman in a wheelchair and other men and women standing

By Nadira Hussain, Director of Leadership development and research

At Socitm we are focusing our efforts on developing policy, creating practice, and prioritising actionable output that clearly spotlights the importance of adopting diverse and inclusive standards and behaviours. It is no longer acceptable to treat this requirement as a ‘bolt on’ extra. To expect the HR experts to consider how to cater for the response from their perspective. Or to assume it is somebody else’s responsibility! On the contrary, creating a fair and equitable workforce, organisation, environment and services is everybody’s responsibility. 

Heightened social inequality 

We have experienced how the pandemic has heightened social inequality. This now has to be a significant area of focus if we are to deliver public services that are accessible by everybody. The public sector needs to administer statutory obligations, entitlements and duties of care – including welfare, healthcare and justice – for us all as equals under the law. Adopting a ‘digital by default’ agenda and digitising government for ‘efficiency’ under the guise of ‘improving services’ compromises this principle. Ultimately, if a public service is not reaching everyone, then it’s failing in its duty. We need to adopt practices that enable inclusive service design. And find alternative means of providing access to responsive, reliable and robust public services for those who are not able to use digital means. 

Key goal for 2021 

In order to raise the profile and emphasise our commitment to diverse and inclusive practice, we have identified this aspect as a key goal for 2021 as part of Socitm’s Leadership, diversity and skills policy theme. We are taking the opportunity to:

  • reflect and review on our own approach and methodology
  • identify where there may be gaps in the way in which we do things
  • adopted processes to allow us to collect data about our own workforce
  • introduce dashboards that will enable us to collate information about the members and organisations we serve
  • understand if there is more that we can do to ensure that our products and services are accessible to all
  • continue to work with our members to signpost and share good practice
  • undertake research to support our ambition
  • help implement improved public service delivery. 

Questions and thoughts  

So, how else will we engender the importance of this priority?  

What can we do individually and collectively to help improve our actions to be more inclusive? To ensure that we are thinking about the impact of our partial behaviours on our colleagues, teams, the wider organisation and the citizens that we deliver services to?  

How can we personally become more accountable and apply the necessary scrutiny and challenge to biased norms?  

How do we really make a real difference?  

PAUSE...for thought. Power up. Ask open questions. Unmute yourself and others. Stop the tape. Extend your privilege,

To answer these questions, we have developed our PAUSE model. The model encourages us to look at our personal ecosystem and identify small steps that will shift us from ‘passivity to activity’. To take some personal responsibility for our actions. It features a number of reflective questions as to how we can all become active contributors to creating more equal, diverse and inclusive entities. 

Through applying the principles of this model, we will benefit personally and on behalf of our organisations. We will start to see the change that a revised attitude and approach will instil. We will start to experience more positive outcomes across key processes such as recruitment and retention, policy making, service design, research and development and ultimately, service delivery. But most importantly, to the way in which we will deliver targeted local, place-based services for the most vulnerable people in our communities.   

If you are keen to challenge poor practice, reflect on your own behaviours and become more proactive and genuinely want to support our efforts, then join us in promoting and responding to this priority requirement.  

Pause – reflect – act! Now.