Published by Skills for Justice
The Casey Review released in March 2023 discussed whether the Metropolitan Police’s leadership, recruitment, vetting, training, culture and communications meet the standards that the public should expect. Finding that there are significant areas for improvement, the review recommends how high standards can be routinely met, and how the Met can restore and maintain public trust.
With all this coming to light, conversations about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace are becoming more commonplace, and rightly so. Diversity in the workplace is reported to be one of the most important requirements of jobseekers today: 66% of UK workers say that workplace EDI is important when jobhunting.
So why is it that even though 18.3% of the UK’s population are from minority ethnic backgrounds there is such a low percentage in senior roles in the justice sector? Just 8.3% of senior prison managers, 4.0% of police chief inspectors and 2.5% of armed forces officers are from minority ethnic backgrounds.
What steps can organisations take to ensure equal leadership opportunities?
What is diversity in leadership?
A diverse leadership team is one which is composed of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, genders, races and abilities. The goal of diversity in leadership is to ensure that decision-making is informed by a range of perspectives and experiences. Ultimately, “diverse management teams and employees prevent a company from becoming pigeonholed into one way of thinking”, according to People Management.
What are the benefits of a diverse leadership team?
Diverse experience and perspectives
Diversity in leadership has numerous benefits that can positively impact an organisation. Firstly, it ensures that a broad range of perspectives are represented at the decision-making table.
This is important because leaders who come from different backgrounds bring unique experiences and viewpoints that can help the organisation identify and overcome blind spots, and to make more informed decisions.
Helps to promote inclusivity
Having a diverse leadership team can also help to promote inclusivity throughout an organisation. It sends a message that everyone can have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to the organisation’s success.
This also translates into your organisation’s external image: organisations with diverse leadership teams are often more successful than those without, as they are able to understand and serve a wide range of customers and stakeholders.
Boost employee morale and engagement
Diversity in leadership can help boost employee morale and engagement. When employees see individuals from a range of backgrounds and experiences in leadership positions, they are more likely to feel valued and included. This, in turn, can lead to increased motivation and commitment to the organisation.
How does diversity in leadership benefit justice sector organisations?
Custody and detention
When people from different backgrounds and experiences are represented in leadership positions, it sends a message that everyone’s voices and perspectives are valued. This can help build trust and respect among all members of the prison community.
Studies have shown that when prisoners have access to a diverse range of programmes and services, they are more likely to successfully reintegrate into society after their release. However, some research has also indicated that being the only person from a particular ethnic group on a therapeutic wing or treatment group can result in feelings of isolation and being misunderstood, making rehabilitation programmes less effective for people from minority ethnic groups. By having leaders from diverse backgrounds who can bring new ideas and perspectives, prisons can better tailor their programmes and services to meet the unique needs of each inmate.
Despite being established almost 200 years ago, the philosophical underpinnings of the reforms introduced by Sir Robert Peel (often referred to as the Peelian Principles) hold true today: the power of the police is predicated on the consent of the public. This check-and-balance means that the ability of the police to perform their duties is reliant on public approval. It is therefore fundamental and widely accepted that the police must represent the communities they serve.
One way in which this can be achieved is through an increased diversity in leadership, to help build trust and confidence among different communities. In policing, this can help to reduce tensions and increase cooperation between police and communities that have historically been marginalised and over-policed.
Moreover, diverse leadership in the justice sector can help to promote fairness and equity in the application of the law. When decision-making is done by a diverse group of people, it is less likely that unconscious bias will influence outcomes. This can help to ensure that justice is truly blind and that all individuals are treated fairly before the law.
Fire and rescue services
When there is a diverse group of leaders within the fire service, they are better equipped to understand and empathise with the needs of different communities. This leads to better communication, a more effective emergency response and will ultimately keep communities safer throughout the country.
Another benefit of diverse leadership in the fire service is the ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce. When there are diverse leaders in the organisation, it sends a message that the organisation values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. This can help attract talent from a variety of backgrounds who may not have considered a career in the fire service otherwise.
While diversity in leadership is important, it is not always easy to achieve. Organisations must be intentional in their efforts to recruit and retain a diverse leadership team, and they must also work to create an inclusive culture that values and celebrates diversity.
Our consultants are specialists in workforce development with experience in conducting EDI audits. We can help you explore and address any EDI concerns you have. Have a conversation with our team today.