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Report reveals equality in city council’s workforce

Published on Thursday, October 27, 2016

THE workforce of Leicester City Council compares well to other cities in reflecting the diversity and ethnic makeup of the city itself, a new report shows. 

The city council’s latest employment monitoring report for 2015-2016 looks at the council’s workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnic background, disability and faith, and compares them to the city’s population as a whole.

Councils have to produce these reports by law, to show that workforces are reflective of the communities they serve. The figures are also compared to similar-sized councils elsewhere, and to the national workforce.

Figures show Leicester City Council’s workforce has declined every year from 2010, and at March 31, 2016 totalled 6,837 staff (5,656 full-time equivalents), of which 96 per cent live in the city or the county. In 2010/11 there were 8,081 staff (6,728 full-time equivalents.) 

In all, 59 per cent of the workforce is female - significantly higher than in the city’s wider population, where the workforce is 45 per cent female, but similar to other cities such as Manchester and Bradford.

Black and minority ethnic (BME) workers account for 36 per cent of those who declared their ethnicity, which is an increase from 34 per cent in 2011/12, and far higher than comparable cities such as Manchester (19 per cent), Coventry (16 per cent) and Bradford (24 per cent). 

Among BME staff, 29 per cent are Asian, compared with 37 per cent of the city’s economically active population.

Seventy per cent of employees declared their religion, with the two largest groups being the 42 per cent identifying as Christian, and 23 per cent with no religion. Hindus made up 19 per cent, Muslims eight per cent, and Sikhs four per cent.

In terms of age, the largest group among council staff are people aged 50 to 54, who account for 18 per cent of staff. 

The city council has an older workforce than the working population of Leicester, but it is working to tackle it by encouraging more young people to work for the council.

In 2015/16, the council had 120 apprenticeships, 59 graduate placements and 53 paid work placements for unemployed people aged 18 to 24. This far outweighs the national average for local authorities, with 11 apprenticeships and one graduate placement.

Around 7.8 per cent of the city council’s workforce are disabled, which is similar to the city workforce as a whole, and an increase from the 2010/11 figure of 6.5 per cent.

Among the top five per cent of city council high earners, 54 per cent are women, which is an increase from 51 per cent five years ago, though still lower than the 59 per cent for the city’s workforce overall.

Furthermore, 20 per cent of those top earners are from BME backgrounds – an increase from 16 per cent in 2010/11.

Within the top five per cent of high earners, eight per cent are disabled – this is both higher than the city’s workforce as a whole, and higher than the percentage of Leicester’s disabled people in work.

These figures also show that Leicester has a significantly higher number of top earners who are BME, female or disabled than other similar local authorities.

Only 11 per cent of staff disclosed their sexual orientation, of which 93 per cent were heterosexual, 3.2 per cent declared themselves as gay male, 2.2 per cent as gay lesbian and one per cent as bisexual. 

The report also outlines the next steps to improve upon the figures and make them even more representative of the city’s population in future.

These include ongoing work with gay rights organisation Stonewall to ensure the council has the right support for its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff, and increasing its knowledge of the workforce through more complete data on areas such as sexual orientation.

There will also be a continuation of the successful work to support graduate employment and apprenticeship routes to address the issues of an ageing workforce, and work with the council’s own disabled employees staff group to identify what further support can be provided for disabled employees. 

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “We are committed to having a workforce which broadly reflects the communities which we serve, and this monitoring report shows some good areas in which we are doing this, in terms of gender balance and representation of ethnic groups and people with disabilities.

“In many areas we are ahead of other similar-sized local authorities, while in others there is still work to do.

“We will continue working with our employees to better understand their potential needs and to help continue to ensure the workforce is truly representative of our diverse city.”

The report will be presented to the city council’s Overview Select Committee on November 3.