Sheffield Council is not ready for expected spike in discrimination cases

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Sheffield Council is expecting a spike in people reporting discrimination at the authority but said it is not yet prepared to deal with it.

The council has stepped up its commitment to equality and is anticipating a big rise in the number of people seeking support with discrimination as a result.

It was discussed in a recent meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny management committee.

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Less than half of Sheffield Council staff have taken mandatory equality training
Sheffield Town Hall council chamber.Sheffield Town Hall council chamber.
Sheffield Town Hall council chamber.

In the meeting, Clare Corneille, head of human resources, said: “Whenever you raise the profile of something you are going to see the level of people having the confidence to raise their concerns increase.

“This happened in the NHS, they introduced zero tolerance of attacks in A&E and all of a sudden they saw the reporting shoot up to levels they had never seen.

“The organisation at the moment has really raised its profile and commitment to the EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) agenda and as a result of that I think when we come back this time next year you will see a real spike in the casework data.”

When asked by councillor Denise Fox, chair of the committee, if the council was prepared to deal with the spike in cases, Clare Corneille, head of human resources, said: “No, but we are working on it – is the honest answer.

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Clare Corneille, head of human resources at Sheffield Council.Clare Corneille, head of human resources at Sheffield Council.
Clare Corneille, head of human resources at Sheffield Council.

“We are reviewing all of our policies, we have got about 89 policies – would you believe – across the organisation and we are looking to streamline them as part of a project and put some targeted support around it. We are talking to each of our networks about the roles they will play in supporting this.

“The honest answer is no, we are not ready, we haven’t been ready over the past 12 months while we have been a very small team, in the same way the equalities team has been a very small team.

“Thankfully, there is some investment coming in and we are going to be looking at putting in some more resources around this work because we have been under-resourced for quite some time.”

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