Claire Webb, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Labour Relations Agency recently hosted an Industry Peer Event for our Diversity Mark signatories. Following up from this session Claire recapped with some FAQ from the event and her wider EDI Manager role.
Please note that these are tips based on Labour Relations Agency’s EDI journey so far. One size does not fit all, and the suggestions can be tailored according to each individual organisation’s resources and needs.
How important was it to you for your EDI journey to get buy-in from the top?
It was (and still is) essential. I was very lucky that I didn’t have to convince our Senior
Leadership Team or the Agency’s Board of the moral or business case for EDI. They
get it – they are very committed and passionate about improving our workplace,
practicing what we preach and delivering inclusive services. Inclusion is also
prominent in the Department for Economy’s agenda, and in order to meet those
expectations our EDI strategy has not only an internal focus, but an external
Senior executives are important as role models, as the rest of the organisation can feel
when leaders really believe in the agenda. It demonstrates commitment to building an
inclusive culture, setting the tone for the behaviours expected to achieve the vision,
and helping staff to see the bigger picture and how this work is relevant to everyday
activities. We also have representatives from the Senior Leadership Team on our new
Diversity Council, where they are challenged to listen to and learn from lived
experiences, be more aware of unconscious biases and collaborate on intersectional
projects. Senior leaders are important agents for harnessing cultural change,
unlocking barriers, and formalising the brilliant work which is being done at grassroots
level. Finally, anyone who works in EDI will know that because you are constantly dealing
with feelings and lived experiences, this is emotionally challenging work. EDI leads
need allyship as well, so having the work championed from the top is half the battle!
What are your top tips for designing an EDI strategy?
Based on our experience, my suggestions are as follows:
- One size does not fit all, and what is a priority for one organisation won’t be for
- Look at your values, vision, business plan and other organisational strategies
that your EDI strategy will need to align with. Consider where on the journey
you are now, where you want to be and how you’ll deliver that. Be creative,
using the resources you have.
- Build your community and talk to peers in this space. We are grateful to peers
who gave guidance to us on this journey – you know who you are!
- Examine societal issues and trends and consider how they relate to your
- Look at other strategies available online – the Agency’s EDI strategy will be
going live online shortly, and you are very welcome to adapt this for your
- Consider how your strategy will capture everything your organisation does (we
are clear in ours that every activity, process, and procedure falls into at least
one of our strategic EDI pillars)
- Be honest, realistic and pragmatic – needs can change.
- Having the strategy formalises the EDI agenda and can help counter any
Have you any tips for establishing and facilitating staff-led networks?
We have had a staff network programme in place for over a year. Our networks are
growing in membership and in confidence, and they are cherished as valuable assets
in the organisation. Based on the LRA’s experience, I recommend that you consider
the following for forming diversity networks:
- Know the diversity composition in the organisation.
- Examine EDI surveys/pulse surveys to gauge areas for lived experience.
- Put out the feelers – gauge expressions of interest for each proposed
network. It’s ok to start small!
- Encourage champions with lived experience to lead the groups.
- Develop terms of reference with details such as purpose, membership,
- Give staff time to attend meetings.
- Recognise staff who participate and link EDI contributions to the appraisal
- Nurture the groups – ensure that they are championed by senior leaders as
“internal consultants” and “influencers” for their lived experience and
- Where appropriate, provide mentors to the networks (eg. LRA has Board
mentors for staff networks)
- When the staff networks are more established, consider forming a Diversity
Council with leaders from each group to collaborate on intersectional matters.
- Listen to the lived experiences from the networks – consult on policy matters
for your organisation or how your services are delivered. This is rich
- Keep reviewing progress of networks and identify any gaps for representation
of other identities.
- Promote your networks so that they become part of your organisation’s
everyday life and ensure that inclusion is on everyone’s radar.
- Promote a network ethos that avoids grade consciousness – look to everyone
- Don’t be afraid of the trial-and-error approach and evolve organically
Thank you to Claire and LRA for their own and transparent thoughts and experiences as they continue to commit to progress. To learn more about becoming a Diversity Mark signatory please click here to book a call with one of our team.