Staff at Bradford Council experienced racism, sexism and homophobia, with some telling their bosses they feel they cannot bring their “full selves” into work.
The “uncomfortable” findings were heard by members of a Council committee that was discussing the Authority’s “equality objectives” for the coming years.
Members were given an update on the Equality Action Plan 2016-2020, and discussed a draft plan that will run from this year to 2024.
The plan was set up to make sure the Council more closely resembled Bradford’s diverse make up.
The Committee heard that as the most recent action plan reached its end, the Council had failed to meet some of its targets.
Around a third of Bradford’s population are from a black or minority ethnic background.
In 2016, just 16 per cent of the Council’s senior staff were of a BAME background. Although that has risen, it is still just 24 per cent – lower than the proportion of BAME residents in Bradford.
Around 28 per cent of all staff are BAME.
The updated plan will include tougher targets to make sure the Council’s workforce is fully representative of Bradford.
Anne Lloyd, Director of Human Resources at the Council, said: “There is a huge commitment from the top of the organisation to equality objectives.
“We had a series of staff engagement sessions recently and heard first hand from the experiences of our staff.
“They included experiences that were unacceptable and discriminatory.
“Some staff experienced racism, sexism and homophobia.
“Some felt they had been overlooked for jobs and that a ceiling on progression prevented them from breaking through higher levels.
“Other said they felt speaking out would risk their career prospects.
“This is not OK.”
She said measures being taken to improve equality objectives include a zero tolerance policy to any discriminatory behaviour, mentoring schemes to help BAME staff and a push to recruit and retain more staff from minority groups.
Joanne Hyde, Strategic Director of Corporate Resources, said in recent months Council managers had heard from staff across the organisation.
She said: “They gave compelling accounts of their lived experiences and some were not very comfortable at all. Some felt they were not able to bring their full self to work.
“People need to be comfortable enough to think they can bring their full self to work. They have to have spaces there they are safe to speak and be heard.
“We need zero tolerance embedded through the Council.”
Councillor Rosie Watson (Lab, Wyke) said: “We’ve been here before. It won’t be fixed tomorrow, but we want to get our finger back on the pulse.”
Acting Chair of the Committee Councillor Angela Tait (Lab, Royds) said: “We thank those staff who have been totally honest with how they feel It is disappointing to think they feel they can’t bring their full self into work. it is good to hear that action is being taken.”
Phil Witcherley, head of policy and performance, said: “Equality will become much more hardwired into our DNA. At every level of the organisation this is an issue that will be talked about at key meetings, rather than just a report we come to at the end of the year.”