MAC0054

Supplementary written evidence submitted by the Clerk of the Parliaments (MAC0054)

 

  1. In September 2019 my predecessor Ed Ollard provided a memorandum to the Committee responding to evidence received by the Committee from Imran Khan QC about the ParliREACH report, Stand in my Shoes. That submission, and a further letter sent in February 2020, informed the Committee of the actions taken by the House of Lords Administration to address the findings of the above report.

 

  1. This letter, which should be read with Ed’s earlier evidence, provides an update to the Committee on:

(1)   the diversity of the House of Lords Administration and staff survey results,

(2)   actions on the recommendations in the ParliREACH report, and

(3)   wider inclusion, diversity and culture change actions and initiatives.

 

Administration diversity and staff survey results

  1. As of April 2020 74 per cent of House of Lords Employees were white and 18.9 per cent BAME.[1]

 

  1. In December 2020 the Administration conducted a bullying and harassment survey, which updated the first such survey conducted in 2018. The results of this survey have been analysed for differences between white and BAME staff. In particular, 29 per cent of BAME staff reported that they had experienced bullying or harassment (excluding sexual misconduct) at work, compared to 17 per cent of white staff.

 

  1. More widely, the Administration conducted its biennial staff survey in early 2021. Whilst the full breakdown of results by ethnicity is not yet available, the survey did provide some information about staff experience of diversity in the workplace:

 

  1. However, there were also areas of concern: not all felt that inclusive behaviours were demonstrated, and BAME colleagues were slightly less likely to feel respected in the workplace.

 

ParliREACH recommendations

  1. I offer observations on some of the recommendations of the ParliREACH report:

 

  1. Recommendation 1: Publication of race/ethnicity pay gap information

The House of Lords Administration published ethnicity pay gap reports in March 2020 and again in March 2021.[2] These data show the difference in average pay between BAME and white employees within an organisation. They are a group comparison which look at diversity across all levels of an organisation. In the most recent report, the mean Ethnicity Pay Gap is 27.2% and median Ethnicity Pay Gap: 27.2%. As the report notes, the results are disappointing and are not improved since last year. The underlying reason for both gaps is the underrepresentation of  ethnic minorities at middle and senior grades. Some of the actions to address this are set out in this letter.

 

  1. Recommendation 2: Diversity as a key strategic objective

One of the Administration’s strategic aims is to “embrace diversity and improve our culture” and, for 2020/2021 one of the key priorities within this has been tocombat racism and racial inequality within Parliament”[3].

 

  1. Recommendation 3: Removal of Grade-based access restrictions

As the previous submissions noted, all grade-based access restrictions were removed from the House of Lords Estate in June 2019. Historic signage (wrongly) suggesting that access to toilets was restricted to member of the House was also removed.

 

  1. Recommendation 4: Leadership development

In December 2020 the House launched a Leadership Development Programme open to all staff who are HL7 and above. One of the aims of the programme is to provide a diverse pipeline of senior leaders and assist those in, or who aspire to, senior leadership positions to explore and develop new leadership styles.

 

  1. Recommendation 5: Open recruitment processes

The House of Lords Management Board has implemented two policies, after consideration of recruitment data for the past three years, to increase diversity throughout the Administration:

 

Other actions to improve inclusion, diversity and culture

  1. As noted in Ed Ollard’s submissions, the Administration’s I&D Plan ‘Focus on Inclusion 2019 -21’ is a comprehensive document and represented a significant commitment to improving the inclusiveness and diversity of the Administration. During its lifetime, the plan was supplemented by further actions and commitments, including to address the deeply worrying issues found in the ParliREACH report. A new plan will be launched later this year.

 

  1. To highlight a few actions taken to specifically address the issues before your Committee, in addition to those above:

 

  1. On 17 July 2020 the Board met to specifically discuss its response to racial inequality within the Administration. The Board agreed:
    1. Personal objectives for each Board member to improve diversity in their areas of responsibility.
    2. To encourage guided conversations about race in individual offices or teams.
    3. In recognition that career opportunities can often be enhanced by mentoring, to relaunch a mentoring scheme and provide coaching opportunities for staff.

 

  1. Following the murder of George Floyd, the Administration has held open and frank discussions about racially inequality at townhall meeting. There has been an externally facilitated sessions for senior leaders, and similar events in each office and team. These conversations offered a chance for all staff to air concerns, ask questions, and reflect on their experiences.

 

  1. The Board has endorsed the outcomes of the pass checking review and the implementation of its recommendations to ensure that the functions, policies and procedures around pass checking are inclusive and respectful to all in the Parliamentary community.

 

  1. There is, of course, still a long way to go. The Board and Administration will continue to listen and learn from colleagues, and to act on the inequalities that exist to ensure this is an open, inclusive and respectful place where all who work for the House are treated equally.

 

 

Simon Burton

Clerk of the Parliaments

 

April 2021

 

 


[1] 93 per cent of staff have declared their ethnicity.

[2] https://www.parliament.uk/contentassets/1258b91f710142e99ed39bddc54f6e43/hl-gender-ethnicity-pay-gap-report-2020.pdf

[3] https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/hl-management-board/2019/business-plans/hol-admin-strategy-poster-19-25.pdf