Oxford City Council has published its annual Workforce Equality Report, suggesting that, while there is stillprogress to be made in regards toworkplace diversity in the Council, there have been significant improve-ments in the last year.

In a Council meeting on November 13, the report’s recommendations on improving ethnic diversity and representation in the Council’s workforce were discussed.

Councillors noted that the propor-tion of Council employees from the BAME community had increasedfrom 1% to 13% over the last year,with the number of applications from the BAME community rising, along with the number of new starters.

Nonetheless, this 13% proportion is still short of the percentage of economically active BAME persons in the City, with the 2011 census putting that figure at 18%.

Questions were raised by councillors at the meeting regarding the viability of the census data, with the current percentage of economic active members of the BAME community being recognised as far higher than the 2011 level, meaning the gap the Council must close is much larger.

In other areas of diversity, thenumber of women employed in the Council workforce now stands at 59%, though they continue to be underrepresented at a higher management level; the number of BAMEemployees in senior positions alsoremains extremely small.

Nigel Chapman, cabinet memberfor safer communities and customer focused services, told the Oxford Mail: “These issues don’t get solve [sic] in a year or even ten years. The number of job applications from BAME communities has gone up.”

He added: “We have to watch we don’t lose very talented staff from these communities.”

“We have 91 staff members from BAME communities from the city; surely there must be 91 who could be trained over time to become leaders. We must make sure they are given every opportunity to do that.”

As a result of the recommendations of the Report, the Council has updated its Equalities Action Plan for 2018-21 in an attempt to improve workforce equality in the areas high-lighted in the report.