Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) has never been as important as it is right now to the future of our sector and our society.
2020 was a significant time for so many reasons: the global pandemic; the Black Lives Matter movement, and a real move to challenge unjust and exclusive cultures; and internally, our own State of Fire and Rescue report which clearly highlights how fire and rescue services need to act now to change our culture.
Equality, diversity, inclusion (EDI) is both internally and externally focused, making sure we have a sector where our people feel valued and able to be the best they can be in order to provide fully inclusive, accessible, efficient and effective services.
The NFCC EDI Hub has been established to look at ways of working across the sector, where services have made a difference to the way they deliver positive action, or have introduced different ways of working, and how these actions have made a difference.
The Equality of Access documents are the first of their kind for our sector and have been produced in consultation with external professional organisations which have expertise across the areas covered.
The NFCC have produced the Equality of access documents to provide a range of information about different groups of people and ideas, and the actions which services could take to make a positive difference. These documents have been produced to support the NFCC plan to improve EDI and support cultural change across the sector, promoting discussion, capturing learning and encouraging research locally, and the sharing of good practice improvements across the sector.
Sector-led improvement is essential to support all of our services (and the sector) in moving forward together with EDI. We also know these documents will evolve and change as we understand how Services use the information provided. It is hoped that, as a minimum, some aspects of these documents will help provide information, awareness, and data to support:
- Integrated Risk Management Plans
- Service delivery strategies
- Positive action and recruitment plans
- Workforce improvement plans
- Community engagement activities
- and, will prompt conversations within the workplace.
Each document provides a significant amount of data and information, including research undertaken and risk based evidence, and then goes into some ideas for actions which Services can use based on the information and their individual circumstances.
We do not endorse or reject the use of terms within the documents, they are a reflection of the research and evidence gathered. The research is taken from sources which have been identified by organisations who are experts in the areas we have covered.
The NFCC recognises that each of these documents will be more relevant to some Services than others, based on their individual risks and their capacity to deliver actions. It is also recognised that even better activities may already be ongoing in some Services.
Feedback on the Equality of Access documents is essential so that these can evolve and become useful resources for Services and the sector. The feedback you provide will make a difference, and is always welcomed.
We already know from your feedback that we cannot achieve everything we would like to, and we recognise the limitations of the documents. There are some areas we would like to improve in the next version of the documents, for example, considering how to broaden across intersectionality and to create a “style” for the documents in the future based on your feedback.
Part of the ongoing work within the EDI Hub will be to identify tools and good practice which services are undertaking to drive improvements across groups, and we will be publishing and communicating this out across services. We are also commissioning training to support the use of the Equality of Access documents – which we will look to deliver throughout 2021/22.
The NFCC are really proud of the work undertaken to produce these information documents, and I hope they provide a starting point for the sector to begin to drive forward real change, based on a professional and evolving evidence base.