Sheffield councillor calls for better diversity training after suffering from unconscious bias

A Sheffield councillor has called for more impactful diversity training after she was told multiple times to declare an interest in council meetings when those involved were Muslim women.

Friday, 16th October 2020, 7:00 am

Councillor Kaltum Rivers, raised the issue during full council members' questions.

She said on multiple occasions when she sat on the admissions committee at Sheffield Council she was asked to declare an interest when the appellant was a Muslim woman.

Despite raising it with the chair of the committee she said the issue was ignored and not minuted.

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Green Councillor Kaltum Rivers

She said: "How will we ensure unconscious bias is addressed and how do we check the training is impactful? As somebody who has suffered from unconscious do we make sure this doesn’t happen again and how do we make sure we actually give training that is impactful for our city for all councillors and elected members and officers?"

She added: "Members and officers have to accept that the training needs to be impactful and they should not tick a box but practice in representing diverse communities in Sheffield."

Council leader Julie Dore said: "I don’t know anything about where you have been subjected to unconscious bias and on behalf of anyone in my group and I hope of the council, you accept a full apology for that if we have been involved. I’m not aware of it and I’m more than happy to consider, if you are happy to do so, your own personal experience so we can learn from it.

“The council does undertake an awful lot of training for our members of staff and members who access it. I have to say we are sometimes somewhat surprised and disappointed when members can have access to training and don’t take that opportunity up. I would urge all members to take up the training opportunities.

“I am so pleased you are a member of our Race Equality Commission, and as you know that commission was tasked to look at very many factors around racism within organisations, communities but also within our city as a whole. I am pleased you can bring forward your experience and especially expert knowledge in this matter and we can make sure training is not only available in the council but also for everyone in the city where appropriate."

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