Understanding and improving Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in the local government workforce across the UK, 2023: A spotlight on data collection and good practice

In 2022, Shared Intelligence was commissioned by Solace, the Local Government Association and the University of Birmingham (INLOGOV) to develop an understanding of how to improve Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the local government workforce. The research focused on upper tier council workforce data, and good practice for improving EDI in relation to ethnicity and race, within councils. A follow up was commissioned and published in 2023 which widened the scope to include the district councils of England, as well as looking at the Scottish and Welsh unitary authorities, analysing a total of 371 councils.

Workforce diversity is fundamental in an organisation which delivers services that meet the needs of the population. A diverse workforce increases the potential for a greater breadth of ideas and processes, a broader range of skills and experiences, and a wider range of perspectives and viewpoints within an organisation. As greater pressures are put on local services and authorities to tackle inequalities and disparities experienced by communities, it has become more important to ensure the workforce of local services reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

For the 2022 report we completed desk research and data collection on the workforce profile of England’s 152 top tier local authorities to produce a complete data model which we complemented with deep dives to understand the journey taken by five councils. Out of 152 upper tier councils, 86 had published a detailed report on EDI, 54 published basic information on their websites or reports, and 12 had no information available.

By 2023 65% (100 councils) of upper tier councils in England made significant strides in publishing new workforce data since the last report. Additionally data completeness among upper tier councils improved, with a 3% increase to 59% (90 councils). The analysis found that upper tier councils publish more complete data compared to district councils, with 37% of districts publishing complete data.

Regional disparities were also found with London presenting the most comprehensive workforce ethnicity data and the South West publishing the least complete data. Scotland and Wales stood out for their high rates of data publication, with 100% of councils in both regions publishing either complete or partial workforce ethnicity data.

This work highlighted the importance of data transparency for making progress on workforce diversity. This work also helped us to develop an understanding of the common best practice. This included having clear governance with demonstrable ownership and leadership, consistent and complete data built from a deep understanding of place demographics and dynamics, and involvement from stakeholders including staff, suppliers and local community leaders.

Our report can be found on the Solace website, if you wish to learn more about this research or explore ways in which we can assist in advancing your organisations journey pertaining to EDI, lisa.mccance@sharedintelligence.net would love to hear from you.

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