Meet the Trailblazer: Vale of Glamorgan Council

Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that the Vale of Glamorgan Council have been awarded Safe Space solution Trailblazer status!

 

Through over 70 in-depth interviews with a wide range of companies, race networks, experts in the field of race equality, employees, and allies and a further 150 race related conversations, Race Equality Matters conducted research to identify the barriers and solutions to race inequality in the workplace. Safe Space is one of these solutions, co-created by Race Equality Matters. It is a 2-hour facilitated dialogue between 3-5 board members and up to 10 ethnic minority colleagues. In a recent REM poll, 80% felt Safe Space would help their organisation take meaningful action to create change. The principle behind Safe Space is to create the environment required to enable a meaningful and purposeful dialogue between board members and ethnic minority employees. With a focus on creating meaningful change.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is making genuine steps in tackling racial inequality, facilitated by their successful implementation of Safe Space. The independent judges- all of whom are ethnically diverse- unanimously recognised the successful implementation of the Safe Space solution within the organisation. As one of the two successful Safe Space Trailblazer applicants, the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s action is a pioneering example of making positive change towards racial equality. Through this, other organisations can learn and implement Safe Space in their own workplace.

 

Safe Space: Implementation by Vale of Glamorgan Council

The Vale of Glamorgan Council have received Safe Space Trailblazer status because of the successful implementation of Safe Space and their commitment to tackling racial inequality. Starting in February 2022, the council’s race network- Diverse- have demonstrated perseverance in pioneering Safe Space to facilitate brave conversations. Judges praised the well-considered “preparation” taken by Diverse, as the council informed their reasons for using the Safe Space format:

“We felt that it provided a timely opportunity for our Diverse Network to have a conversation with the Senior Leadership Team about their experience in the workplace and its priorities for action.”

The Council and its network successfully implemented its first Safe Space meeting through the following ways:

  • Senior leadership attendance and support: The Council’s Chief Executive, Directors and Head of HR attended the meeting, and their role within the organisation was utilised to “explore how to take matters forward” to create positive change. 80% of the judges considered the evidence as “good” to demonstrate senior leadership buy-in.
  • Adaptability and inclusivity: The Safe Space was run in a hybrid manner to suit the ethnically diverse employee work patterns, as well as their preferred setting for wellbeing and the opportunity to “speak freely” All judges considered the Safe Space as “good” or “clear and substantial” in granting ethnically diverse employees a voice.
  • Prioritising wellbeing: Prior to the meeting, the Safe Space Psychological Safety Statement was created and shared with attendees. Following the meeting, the ethnically diverse attendees were contacted and offered support if required.

 

Safe Space: Impact 

Following the Safe Space meeting, the Vale of Glamorgan Council gathered feedback and actionable points to ensure meaningful impact was achieved from the “real and honest conversations” that were had. Using testimonial evidence in their application, one ethnically diverse employee gave feedback that:

“I felt it [Safe Space] provided me with an opportunity to discuss my experiences in an open and honest way, this made me feel valued as I had never been asked to share this previously. It gave the Chief Executive and Directors the opportunity to ask questions and improve their understanding of the experiences received by ethnic minority colleagues working within the Local Authority.”

To ensure that the Safe Space initiate facilitated optimum impact, 2 actionable points were agreed upon:

  • Implementation of mandatory race awareness training: Training providers have been sourced, and this has been piloted within a school with intention to expand this soon. This will also be done at council sessions too.
  • Raise the profile of ethnic minority colleagues: This will be achieved through regular communications to the Council. So far, the Diverse Chair and Deputy Chairs, as well as a frontline worker, have shared information about themselves for the next network meeting.

Next Steps by Vale of Glamorgan Council….

Looking forward, the Vale of Glamorgan Council plan to pursue their confirmed actionable points in their wider journey to tackle race inequality. In the coming Diverse Network meetings, members intend to develop and implement a 12-month programme, with regular reviews and integration into staff communications. One judge praised the “good start” taken by the Council and recognised the “plans to move things forward”.

 The Vale of Glamorgan Council has demonstrated commitment and impact for change. Their Safe Space Trailblazer status echoes the impact felt by the organisation’s ethnically diverse employees. Celebrating our Trailblazer community will accelerate the change and momentum towards racial equality, through action not words.

 

Follow the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer 

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnic background employees and share future plans; register your interest to be considered for the next round of trailblazers.

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