DCC Equality Reference Group newsletter - July 2019

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Equality Reference Group newsletter

Issue 9: July 2019

Policy, Pay, Participation, Providers, Procurement, Pride and Plenty more!

Items discussed

Equality Policy and new Diversity Guide


Devon County Council published an updated Equality Policy and new Diversity Guide in April.

The Equality Reference Group, along with the DCC Staff Diversity Reference Group, Trade Unions, HR and senior management, gave feedback on the policy and guide.

Gender Pay (Earnings) Gap

Walking to work

The Council has published its second Gender Pay Gap report.

A GPG is the difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men’s earnings, for example, ‘women earn 15% less than men per hour’. It is an indicator of the differences in opportunity and choices of men and women within the work place. It is not a measure of equal pay i.e. whether men and women receive equal pay for equal work.

The Mean gap at DCC is 13% (down 0.5% from the previous year). The Median is 17.2% (unchanged from the previous year) for part timers and 13.6% for full timers (down 0.5% from the previous year). 

The Council’s Gender Pay Gap is primarily caused by large proportions of women in lower graded posts, typically part time, administrative and caring roles, as opposed to male dominance in senior roles. 37% of the Council’s workforce are part-time women, but only 5% are part-time men. DCC has almost twice as many women working part-time than the national average. Some of the low-paid female dominated roles do not currently have natural progression opportunities.

Several points were discussed in our meeting including DCCs positive approach to flexible working, support for people with caring responsibilities and job design. 

The Council are committed to trying to reduce the GPG by implementing several initiatives, including holding DCC’s first internal Career and Development Fair in September this year.

Trade Union participation at the ERG

A Trade Union representative now sits on the Equality Reference Group to bring a staffing perspective to the meetings.

Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Have Your Say

At our June meeting we were informed of the latest developments with the Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Consultation on the strategy will be launched 11th July 2019 and will be available on Have Your Say and supported by further engagement with local groups. Consultation ends 5th September. The strategy will include a focus on inequalities and opportunities for social mobility. The work will also inform the development of the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s (STP) long-term plan, with engagement work due to commence with local groups, bodies and partnerships during July and August.

Adult social care service providers conference

PEN conference - keynote speech

On 14 May a wide range of adult social care providers gathered at Exeter Racecourse for the Provider Engagement Network (PEN) conference on the theme: Serving Everyone - meeting diverse needs in changing times.

Setting the tone for a positive day of dialogue, event chair - Involvement Manager, Paul Giblin, introduced The Turning Tides CIC, a mixed music group featuring people with learning disabilities who played upbeat songs challenging prejudice, perceptions and the balance of power.

This was followed by five short presentations from a range of diversity perspectives. Diana Crump from Living Options Devon talked about disabilities, in particular hidden ones. Then Julia Boas from The Intercom Trust raised awareness of LGBT rights in the context of care services. She was followed by Julie Paget from Plymouth & Devon Racial Equality Council and Andrew Sails from the Devon Faith & Belief Forum, presenting on issues of ethnicity and belief. Finally, Robert Hawken, co-chair of Devon’s Learning Disability Partnership Board reminded us of the importance of Human Rights as a key to citizenship, a theme underpinning the whole day.

Having set the scene, delegates then attended four workshops to cover issues in more depth: Diana Crump facilitated a session on market opportunities and changing demography. Sam Shaw and Jo Billings explored the use of technology in the promotion of independence. Ruth Wells led discussions about service user involvement. Gary Kent and Therese Timberlake tackled Human Rights in the context of social care provision.

The workshops were followed by the first networking session in a market place featuring a range of diverse stands, with an opportunity to visit a technology display van in the car park too. 

Delegates then heard keynote addresses from Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council portfolio holder for Adult Care & Health, and Ian Hobbs, Senior Manager for Business Relations. This was followed by a question and answer session, giving providers the chance to raise any burning issues with these key players in social care commissioning.

The morning ended with another upbeat performance by The Turning Tides, followed by very loud applause!

A late lunch-time session gave delegates a final chance to network and see the technology on display.

Feedback from the event has been overwhelmingly positive and we all look forward to being able to continue these discussions at future gatherings.

PEN Conference - Turning Tides

Involving service users in commissioning/procurement exercises

Through its Engaging Devon strategy Devon County Council aims to ensure that service users and communities are informed, consulted and involved in service design. 

We wanted to know how this applied to the commissioning and procurement process - when DCC asks other organisations to provide services on its behalf.

To ensure that service users have a say in how a service is designed and delivered, DCC involve people early on in the process by influencing the service specification which is used for service design, tender evaluation and service monitoring. Service users also provide feedback on experiences to assist with service monitoring. This has proved to be a very beneficial and positive. Here are some quotes from service users involved in Children's Services Commissioning:

"Nice to have the time to reflect and think about the future and know that people want to get it right."

"It was good to have the opportunity to give feedback to try to improve services and also to meet other professionals working for DCC and other parents whose children have very different needs."

The procurement process is very thorough and works to tight guidelines. Involvement in evaluating tenders requires training and strict compliance to ensure that bidders are treated fairly throughout. For practical and legal reasons, only officers are involved in evaluating written bids. DCC front line staff such as social workers can be involved in the evaluation process to bring their knowledge of service users' experiences to the table.

We heard about examples of how people have been involved in recent procurement exercises such as the focus groups with young people when reviewing the service specification for Devon's Youth Service and suggested DCC to take a look at how other authorities are involving service users in service design and monitoring.

We also talked about the importance of obtaining a diverse range of views and involving protected characteristic groups - particularly LGBT and BME groups who may be under-represented or 'invisible' in service user monitoring.

In summary, the most important part of the process is the very beginning - by investing time in creating a well informed service specification.

Other information

Celebrating Exeter Pride

DCC celebrated Exeter Pride in May by showcasing one of its back-up gritting lorries in the pride parade. The gritter was covered in banners, rainbow bunting, pom poms, with a bubble machine and loud sound system on the back!

LGBT staff network members, straight allies, County Councillors, families, friends and Simon the Dog donned purple ‘I support @DCCLGBT’ t-shirts and rainbow garlands and handed out rainbow flags to onlookers while dancing to songs including Road to Nowhere, Hit the Road Jack, Ice Ice Baby and King of the Road!

Read more.

Exeter Pride 2019

Coming up

DCC to launch new e-learning course on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion


The Equality Reference Group were given a demo of the new equality, diversity and inclusion e-learning course that will be launched to all DCC staff. Unfortunately we can't give you a sneak preview here, but we can tell you that it now provides an opportunity for trainer interaction via a discussion forum, includes a more in-depth module on bullying and harassment which provides guidance on being an 'active bystander' and requires all delegates to pass a short assessment before obtaining a certificate.

Equality Reference Group meetings

For further information about ERG meetings and membership visit www.devon.gov.uk/equality/performance-and-monitoring/equality-reference-group 

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