Author: Blog

A Day in the Senedd with Urdd competition winner Lora Lewis

Lora Lewis joined the Assembly’s Translation and Reporting Service for a day after winning the Urdd translation competition. Here she talks about her experience behind the scenes…

As someone who has considered a career in the translation industry, competing in the Urdd competition was a natural step once I discovered that the prize was a day at the Assembly. This certainly appealed to me straight away and I set about translating the competition piece. Luckily, I got the news that I had won, and Aoife, a member of staff in the translation and reporting service at the Assembly, got in touch with me shortly afterwards and the preparations began. In no time at all, I was handing over all my possessions to go through the cameras as if I was in an airport before entering the building.

My first impressions were exactly as I had imagined – a handful (or two!) of employees in a big office working in front of computers, but as the day went on, several aspects of that work became very exciting.

To start with, I met the Presiding Officer, Elin Jones, and had an opportunity to chat to her about the work that goes on in the Senedd, as well as introducing myself to her. The Presiding Officer was very welcoming and we even had time to take a quick photograph.

After that, it was time to start the work experience for real. I met Rhiannon and she gave me a detailed presentation of the work on the Record of Proceedings and the way they use appropriate software when transcribing and editing the official Record. I had an opportunity to do this myself using voice recognition software that could record what I said through a microphone. Without a doubt, this was great and showed me how important technology is in the workplace to facilitate these kinds of tasks.

urdd

I was most interested in simultaneous translation, and I was very lucky to get an introduction to this aspect in particular from Cai, a translator in the department. This aspect is definitely one that frightens many translators, and it’s an element of the work that certainly worried me – but Cai was ready to reassure me by offering lots of useful tips. I was introduced to simultaneous translation through a visit to the interpreting booths in the committee rooms and the Chamber. I also got to watch Plenary when the First Minister was speaking. The simultaneous translation there was very exciting and gave me an insight into how difficult this aspect of the work is, as well as what an incredible skill it is to develop.

Continue reading “A Day in the Senedd with Urdd competition winner Lora Lewis”

Enterprise, Innovation and Skills Committee: One year in – Stakeholder event

A year after its first stakeholder event in July 2016, the Economy Infrastructure and Skills (EIS) Committee invited a wide range of stakeholders back to reflect on the highlights of the year and to consider the Committee’s emerging priorities for next year.

IMG_2254

What happened?

On 19 July 2017, Members of the committee and stakeholders discussed how the committee has delivered its work programme and what we can do to drive things forward, in particular:

  • What were the highlights of the Committee’s first year? And what could the Committee have done better?
  • What the key trends or events over the next 12-18 months?
  • Is the timing right and is anything missing in the Committee’s initial thinking about future work?

Key themes emerging from much of the discussions were the impact of Brexit and the importance of the Welsh Government’s forthcoming economic strategy.

Thanks for the participants

Russell George AM, chair of the EIS Committee, thanked contributors for sharing their expertise. He said:

“A year after we first invited a range of stakeholders to inform us about what we should do as a committee, we wanted to hear what they thought of what we have done. And to see what they thought of some of our emerging ideas for the coming year.

”After today’s discussions, I believe that we are on the right track to develop a work programme which incorporates the views of stakeholders from across the three main strands of our remit – the economy, infrastructure and skills.”

IMG_2255

What happens next?

The clerking team will use the ideas and comments from stakeholders to inform a paper for the Committee to consider in September setting out priorities and inquiries for the coming year.

Royal Welsh Show 2017

Royal Welsh Show 2017

The National Assembly for Wales returns to the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells from 24 – 27 July with a new programme of events and the chance for the public to meet Assembly Members and staff and find out more about work our work. Based in the Green Pavilion, everyone is welcome to visit our stand to give your views and options on our work.

Taking place throughout the week

On the stand

Whether you’re familiar with our work or not, by the end of your visit to the Assembly stand you’ll have learnt something new about us and what we do. Enjoy a cuppa and learn about your Assembly Members, how they represent you and how you can get in touch with them to air your views and concerns. You can find out more about our current inquiries and upcoming work that may be of interest to you or your community.

For kids

While parents put their feet up, children can take part in different games and activities around the stand to help them learn more about what we do. They will be able to find out about making laws and have a go at voting about the hobbies and activities that are important to them. There are also games to play and colouring in for younger visitors.

Tell us what makes you proud of Wales

We’re proud of our country. Our history, our culture, our heroes, our language, our land – our home. Most of all we’re proud to represent you, the people of Wales, and to make decisions and create laws that will shape the future of Welsh life. We want you to tell us what you love most about life in Wales and what makes you proud. Share your views with us on the stand or tell us on Twitter using #myWales.

Sessions and Events

Wednesday 26 July

09.00-10.00 Stronger Voice for Wales Stakeholder Breakfast Event (Constitutional andLegislative Affairs Committee), National Assembly for Wales stand

You don’t have to be a constitutional expert to have your say on constitutional issues. The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee are looking at how Wales works with other parliaments and governments and want to hear from people and organisations who have experience of giving evidence at UK and Welsh levels and what barriers they may have faced. By asking these questions and hearing their experiences, the Committee would be able to recommend the best model of working for the future.

Thursday 27 July

10.30-11.30 Launch of Inquiry into Rethinking Food in Wales (Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee), Food and Drink Hall

What’s your vision for the future of food and drink in Wales and what needs to be done to achieve it? Members of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee will be meeting with stallholders to launch and discuss their new inquiry into rethinking food in Wales. By meeting with food producers and exhibitors the Committee hopes to learn more about how Wales could create an innovative food industry sustaining high quality jobs, and become an internationally renowned destination for food lovers.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you at the Royal Welsh Show. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the week for the latest Assembly news from the showground.

 

 

 

 

Diversity and Inclusion Week – Age Diversity in the Workplace: Multigenerational Working

Employers are now seeing five different generations of employees working side-by-side in their workplaces. The five different generations are defined as:

  • Traditionalists: 70 year olds – 80+;
  • Babyboomers: 50 year olds – late 60s;
  • Generation X: late 30s – late 40s;
  • Generation Y/Millennials: 20 year olds – early 30s); and
  • Generation Z/Digital Natives: born now-late teens. (Source: Virgin.com)

Delayed retirement and increased longevity mean that we have workforces that are ageing and therefore becoming increasingly multigenerational. Whilst this in itself is enriching for workplaces, employers will need to take into account the differing needs, perspectives, skillsets and communication styles of their staff across the generations to ensure an inclusive, productive working environment. Collaboration and employees’ understanding and appreciation of age diversity will also be key to fostering inclusion in the workplace.

The Assembly Commission recognises these challenges. To this end the overarching aim of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy is to continue to foster an inclusive and collaborative takes account of all protected characteristics, including age. We have also developed an introduction to unconscious bias training module for our staff and our workplace equality networks are multigenerational and work collaboratively together. We also conduct annual staff surveys which provide an opportunity for to staff to say how they think and feel about their workplace.

As an employer, we recognise the rich diversity that exists within a multigenerational working environment and the breadth of creativity, skill sets and perspectives from which we benefit. We will do all we can to recognise this as we progress in delivering our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy over the coming years.

Diversity and Inclusion Week: The Assembly as an Inclusive employer

We strive to be an inclusive employer that supports the needs of everyone that works here. We have a number of teams, policies and procedures in place to help us to develop an inclusive culture, and to ensure that our staff are supported, can be themselves and fulfil their potential.

“I believe it is important that the Assembly leads the way in promoting an inclusive    organisational culture and that it is a modern, accessible parliamentary body with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact. It is incumbent on us as the National Assembly for Wales to lead on this and share our experiences, ensuring that the values of equality, diversity and inclusion are respected and practiced by all,”

Elin Jones AM, LLywydd, National Assembly for Wales.

Workplace networks

Our workplace equality networks help us to promote inclusion internally and externally by taking forward diversity campaigns, providing peer support, sharing best practice and by helping the Assembly Commission to consider equality, diversity and inclusion in our work.

They are a place for people who identify with a protected characteristic group and/or have an interest in matters relating to a particular diversity strand, to come together. They help is to achieve a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment for all. This week, we are launching MINDFUL, our mental health and wellbeing network.

External recognition

We have received a number of accolades that demonstrate our commitment to fully supporting our staff, fostering an inclusive working environment and providing inclusive services. These standards acknowledge the progressive policies that we have in place and help us to maintain a best practice approach. Recent achievements include:

  • being ranked fifth in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2017, ranked the top public sector employer in the UK and named the Top Public Sector organisation in Wales for the fourth year running. Ross Davies, our Diversity and Inclusion Manager, was also named Stonewall Cymru’s Ally of the Year;
  • retaining our National Autistic Society Award for being an autism-friendly employer and service provider;
  • being listed as a top 10 family friendly employer in the UK by Working Families Organisation;
  • being designated as a Disability Confident Employer and Age Positive Employer;
  • retaining the Investors in People Gold Standard, the international mark of global excellence. Organisations that meet the world-recognised standard reflect the very best in people management and our achievement of the gold award demonstrates our continuing aim of being an employer of first choice.
  • winning Action on Hearing Loss Cymru Excellence Awards for our service to people who are deaf or have a hearing loss; and
  • Achieving the Action on Hearing Loss Louder than Words Charter Mark.

all benchmark logos 2017

What our staff say

We think a good way to tell you more about what we do, is to let some of our people tell you themselves:

“Adjustments have been made to my working pattern in order to achieve a work-life balance that is appropriate for me, including working condensed hours and term-time working. These adjustments have proven to be extremely valuable.”

“It took me 3 years to come ‘out’ in my previous job; it took me less than 3 weeks to do the same here. It was clear straight away that everyone accepts everyone else for who they are.”

“I do not feel disabled when I come to work, as I am treated with respect and my skills are appreciated.”

“As a deaf member of staff I am well supported in my role. Colleagues have adjusted their working practices and I have been provided with the necessary equipment to enable me to make a full contribution to the team.”

“Since joining our BME staff network, I feel reassured knowing my views have a place to be heard and valued. It makes me feel supported in my work and gives me the confidence that I can influence change in the organisation.”

“I joined the staff disability network after being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (FM) a few years ago in the hope of having some influence in the development and revision of corporate/HR policies in terms of how these affected people with all disabilities (having worked closely with the Diversity and Inclusion team), but particularly such invisible conditions as FM. I am pleased that, as a collective voice, the network has been able to influence some of these policies and get things changed.”

“Without the support, understanding and flexibility of line managers and advice and support from the occupational health nurse I doubt that I would be in work today”

Diversity and Inclusion Week: Banter, harassment and inappropriate behaviour

We all have the right to work in an environment free from harassment and bullying, and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Harassment and bullying cannot be tolerated as they undermine confidence, can affect mental and physical health, erodes morale and can damage team cohesion, productivity and effectiveness.

A fine line can exist between a light-hearted atmosphere among a happy productive team and employees overstepping the mark and leaving the business open to claims. However, it is clear that any workplace culture or office banter must not offend or isolate members of staff and that any jokes, nicknames or conversations must not relate to any protected characteristic (age, disability, gender identity, pregnancy, race, religion / belief, sex, sexual orientation). The Assembly has a Dignity at Work policy that has a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour.

What’s the difference between banter and harassment?

Banter could be defined as good natured teasing, joking or repartee that doesn’t offend anyone. Harassment is unwanted, distressful and hurtful words or behaviour. It is unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating an employee’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. It is important to remember that harassment includes conduct that may not be intentional but nevertheless has the effect of harassing an individual. The fact that an individual did not intend to cause offence or hurt is not an acceptable excuse.

Common sense, context, good taste and individuals’ relationships with each other will normally dictate which remarks are, and which are not, enjoyable and acceptable.

Sometimes good friends and colleagues can build up relationships which involve constant mickey-taking of each other. But don’t let this style of humour become your default. It’s often a natural instinct for someone to laugh along and pretend they’re not bothered, when really they are.

Whilst often the harshest of banter may occur between the closest of friends, always stop to consider whether it may cause offence to someone else who may have joined the conversation at a later stage, or someone who may be within earshot.

Often teams of employees have been together for a long period of time and have developed a culture of good-natured ribbing or humorous insults. If any of these comments is objectionable in tone and aimed toward a protected class, you may have an illegal situation forming in your workplace.

Are you displaying inappropriate behaviour?

Is it possible that you are unaware of the effect your behaviour has on others? The following are examples of phrases that should not be used to excuse, or hide, behaviour that, in reality, constitutes bullying:

  • ‘Strong or robust management style’.
  • ‘A personality clash’.
  • Describing someone as ‘oversensitive’ or ‘unable to take a joke’.
  • A manager who does ‘not suffer fools gladly’.
  • A ‘hard task-master’.

Consider the position of the other person: are they more junior than you? Have they recently joined the team? Are they in a minority in the team, e.g. a women working in a predominately male environment? All these things may make them feel more sensitive to comments, and less able to complain about it.

Think about the rest of your team. Any comment you make doesn’t exist in isolation, it also contributes to an environment where that type of humour is accepted. You may only make one joke, but if you are the tenth person to make a similar of joke that day, the recipient’s sense of humour will wear thin pretty quickly. If one person always seems to be the butt of office jokes, don’t wait for HR to tell you to cut it out.

Be especially cautious of email. It’s all too easy to forward a “hilarious” joke or video to several recipients at once, but if some of them find it offensive then it’s not much of an excuse to say that you were just passing it on. We have special rules about use of IT systems, plus there will be a paper trail showing exactly what you sent. If you wouldn’t be happy to copy in the head of HR and the head of IT, then don’t click send.

Here’s a good rule of thumb – imagine your comment being read out in a barrister’s withering tones in front of a scowling judge. Stripped of its context in the jokey back-and-forth between workmates, anything close to the knuckle is going to sound that much worse.

If your boss takes disciplinary action against you for comments you’ve made; it’s usually best to apologise, promise to be more sensitive in future. This puts the ball back in their court and will usually stand you in better stead that insisting that you haven’t done anything wrong because it was all “just a joke” – remember, this is no defence!

What can you do if you witness or experience inappropriate behaviour?

The Assembly Commission’s Dignity at Work policy has the following principles in place:

  • Employees should be encouraged to raise their concerns with management either informally or through a formal grievance.
  • Employees should be left under no illusions that any banter or conduct which is deemed to be unacceptable will result in disciplinary action.
  • Managers must not stand by and tolerate clearly offensive conduct but take steps to prevent it. Managers who overhear or witness any potentially offensive conduct must take steps to address it or ensure it is not repeated
  • Inform your entire team of the difference between workplace banter and actual verbal harassment. Don’t accept excuses like, “It’s just a joke” or “We’ve always talked this way.” Demand a zero-tolerance culture in your workplace, and inform every person on your team of this policy.
  • Challenge inappropriate and unacceptable language and behaviour. TO not challenge, could be seen as condoning the behaviour.
  • Investigate any accusations of harassment immediately to make sure of all the details. If you find an employee that has been harassing others, take appropriate steps to rectify the situation immediately.

Sources:

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-verbal-harassment-workplace-banter-35576.html

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/legal-guide-workplace-banter-crosses-7659431

http://www.cityjobs.com/cityblog/2013/04/17/avoid-office-banter-harassment-workplace/

Diversity and Inclusion Week: The Assembly Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

The Assembly Commission’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy sets out our diversity and inclusion objectives for 2017-21 and the steps we need to take to deliver against these objectives. The strategy will also help us plan how we comply with the duties placed on the Assembly Commission by the Government of Wales Act 2006 and also by the Equality Act 2010, covering each of the protected characteristics and other issues such as caring responsibilities, social mobility and other inequalities.

28447432903_d9001b7ecd_o

It is important to us that the Assembly continues to be accessible to the people of Wales and beyond: making it relevant, easy and meaningful for people to interact with it and contribute to its work. It is also important to us that we behave as an inclusive employer, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

We are finalising our action plan which details what activities we need to pursue to meet these objectives and how we will monitor our progress and success in meeting them.

We will ensure that our staff understand the part they play in helping our organisation deliver on our diversity and inclusion objectives and realise our diversity and inclusion vision and values.  Each year, we publish and Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report which provides an update on progress made in meeting our objectives.

We have identified five diversity and inclusion objectives and here we set out a summary of planned activities:

Objective One: Fostering Inclusive Leadership and an Inclusive Workplace Culture

We will ensure senior accountability, inclusive leadership, and continue to support and develop our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs).

Objective Two: Building on our Approach to Organisational Development

We will look for opportunities to identify and raise awareness of potential barriers to inclusion through collaboration with our workplace equality networks, the ongoing use of equality impact assessments and other appropriate awareness-raising activities such as our annual Diversity and Inclusion Week.

We will continue to benchmark our diversity and inclusion work with other organisations through peer review and other external recognition activities.

We will ensure that staff receive current, relevant diversity and inclusion training and information throughout their employment to support them to help us realise our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

Our workplace policies will continue to be inclusive in the way that they are drafted and reviewed, including being subject to equality impact assessment, which includes input from our workplace equality networks.

IMG_7808

Objective Three: Supporting Assembly Members and their Staff to build Diversity into their work

We will support Assembly Members and their staff to build diversity and inclusion into their roles as employers, as service providers and into their work as caseworkers, scrutineers and legislators.

We will continue to feed diversity and inclusion considerations into the work of the independent Remuneration Board of the National Assembly for Wales.

We will also work with the Business Committee and the Committee Chairs’ Forum, to explore how to strengthen the ways that diversity and inclusion are taken into account in Assembly business procedures and practices and when legislating to exercise any new devolved powers to the Assembly.

We want to broaden the reach of the Assembly to individuals and communities who are not currently engaged with its work or with the work of Assembly Members. We want to make information about the Assembly and its work to be increasingly easy to access and meaningful to the people of Wales.

We will also regularly review policies and arrangements for visitors to the Assembly to ensure that they are inclusive and promote access to all.

Objective Four: Supporting Assembly Commission Staff to build Diversity and Inclusion into their work

In order to ensure that inclusion is at the heart of decision-making across service areas, we will ensure that equality impact assessments are conducted whenever we change or initiate something new.

Service planning will take account of how service areas will deliver, where appropriate, on the objectives set out in this strategy. This approach will ensure that diversity and inclusion considerations are at the core of our day-to-day work.

We will take into account diversity and inclusion when buying-in goods and services.

8550944973_9a441ae52d_o

Objective Five: Behaving as an Inclusive Employer which attracts and retains the widest pool of talent where all staff have the opportunity to realise their full potential

We recognise that every member of our talented workforce, irrespective of their background, deserves to realise their full potential and progress in their careers.

We continue to address imbalances in representation of BME colleagues and disabled colleagues particularly at senior management level. We will support our existing staff and adjust where necessary, our recruitment attraction arrangements, exploring employment outreach activities and whether exploring and using positive action initiatives would be beneficial.

We will also maintain an ongoing review of our overall recruitment and selection processes to identify and remove any barriers to inclusion.

We collect and use workforce, recruitment and pay diversity data to identify and address any inequalities.

For any further information about our strategy, contact diversity@assembly.wales