Positive action – Operational Support
In East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS), female and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees were significantly under-represented, especially in the tactical support team (TST) which had a negative reputation within the organisation. Temporary vacancies created an opportunity to trial a positive action and values-based recruitment process for staff. The project has been piloted within EMOpSS to assess the impact of a personal approach and is the first of its kind within a wider programme of work.
Officers could apply to a three-month attachment within the TST, which was enabled through the backing of a Chief Officer as a sponsor. Methods used to attract a diverse applicant pool included surveys, rebranding, myth-busting articles, targeted emails, recruitment events and anonymised and behaviour-based applications. All participants receive personal development plans and are individually interviewed to gain feedback, and receive personal approaches to apply for future vacancies.
Advice on the approach taken was sought from internal support networks, community members, independent advisory groups, local and regional equality networks and third sector organisations. Corporate Communications also provided advice on structuring internal messaging, which was shared by the Chairs of internal BAME support networks.
The project involves extensive engagement across the organisation and with outside agencies and external stakeholders. These have included the College of Policing and the Army, where the officer leading the project presented to senior leaders wanting to develop something similar.
The Head of the Department has been visibly involved from the outset and has actively ensured support for the project from his senior management team. He has also given the project to a manager with a clear remit to deliver success, which is measured by examining representation prior to and following the programme. The programme has been signed off at Chief Officer level and updates are regularly communicated to senior managers.
- The BAME and female representation of attachments to the TST increased substantially. 32% of attachments now come from BAME backgrounds and BAME women now make up 8% of attachments (with women making up 34% of attachments as a whole). This is compared to 4% BAME and 8% female representation prior to the programme. The TST has also begun to rebrand its image and portray a more flexible, adaptable and inclusive work environment.
- There has been an agreement that a similar process will be run on an ongoing rotational basis, allowing staff to apply for temporary attachments and to try the department before making a commitment. A report has also been produced outlining recommendations going forward, including further research, reinforcing the comms messages, creating ongoing opportunities, making managers accountable for programme delivery and performance and extending the scope of the programme to include other under-represented groups.