Hello PPMA members and friends

At the beginning of this week, Communities secretary Michael Gove wrote to all council chief executives outlining demands for councils to submit ‘productivity plans’  to justify additional funding of £600m as part of the local government financial settlement.

The extra £600m will mean a 7.5% cash increase in funding made available to councils in 2024-25 compared to the current financial year. In return for the additional funding, £500m of which is for social care, councils were told they would need to set out how they will “improve service performance and reduce wasteful expenditure” in productivity plans, to be submitted before the summer recess.

One of the areas described to provide information on was ‘Ways to reduce wasteful spend within systems, including specific consideration of expenditure on consultants and discredited staff equality, diversity and inclusion programmes’

I know most leaders and HR/OD professionals that read this were incredulous at such a nonsensical statement. I’m not sure what Michael Gove was talking about in terms of discredited EDI programmes, but I do not consider spending money on ensuring our workplaces are free from discrimination and bias, that they are open, transparent and inclusive, allowing staff to thrive in a non threatening and supportive work environment, and striving to get a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve, is wrong.

There are plenty of credited studies out there that demonstrate the value and increased productivity that is provided by organisations that improve workforce diversity across all areas.

  • Forbes article 2021 ‘ companies with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to experience greater financial returns’
  • McKinsey report 2018 ‘For ethnic and cultural diversity there  is a 30% plus  likelihood of company outperformance [than market rivals]’.
  • Croner article 2023 ‘the benefits of an inclusive workforce’

As community leaders our organisations should be embracing the benefits of EDI programmes to a greater degree. So, as part of any productivity plans that need to be provided back to government let’s extol the benefits of wider and deeper diversity and representation across our workforces.

Steve Davies is PPMA past president and current PPMA Treasurer and Secretary