Category: Diversity and Inclusion

Championing equality at the Assembly

Assembly Members celebrating International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

This year’s theme is #EachforEqual. The campaign is raising awareness of how all our actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on society. Together, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world.

Equality at our core

The Senedd

We’re proud champions of equality at the National Assembly for Wales. Established in 1999, the Assembly had the principle of equal opportunities at its core.

The laws and rules that govern the Assembly have specific requirements that our work should be conducted “with due regard to the principle that there should be equality of opportunity for all people.”

Leading the way

As a legislature, we’ve led the way with equality. In 2003, we became the first legislature in the world to achieve a gender balance with 30 women and 30 men. Currently, 47% of AMs are female. The proportion has never fallen below 40%.

Globally the average percentage of women in national parliaments is 24%. The Assembly has always held a higher proportion of women Members than the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Women hold some of the most senior roles at the Assembly. Our Presiding Officer is Elin Jones AM. The role is similar to Speakers and Presiding Officers in parliaments across the world, although responsibilities vary from country to country. Ann Jones AM is the Deputy Presiding Officer.

Manon Antoniazzi is the Chief Executive and Clerk of the Assembly. 60% of senior managers in the Assembly are women.

Giving a platform to young people

The Welsh Youth Parliament gives a platform to young people to have their voices heard and debate issues of importance. Equality and inclusivity, are at its core. Young people aged 11-18 make up the 60 Members of the Welsh Youth Parliament, 58% are young women.

Welsh Youth Parliament with the Llywydd

Our work

We investigate issues relating to gender equality including parenting and work; violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and ensuring diverse representation in local government.

You can keep up-to-date with the work of the Assembly by following us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can also visit us.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Guest blog by Ann Jones AM.

Ann Jones AM and the panel

The National Assembly for Wales holds an annual event each March to celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, and I feel really proud that we’ve committed to taking equality seriously at the Assembly since it was established 20 years ago.

I’m one of the original Assembly Members voted in for the first time in 1999. This has provided me with a good overview of the Assembly and the way it works. I can truly say that it is committed to the principles of #EachforEqual. We have a legal duty to promote equality and it’s become ingrained in our culture to do so, not because we have to, but because we want to.

International recognition

In 2003, the Assembly achieved international recognition for becoming the first legislature worldwide to achieve gender parity, and in being the first to have more women than men in 2006. We currently have 47 percent women Members and continue to strive for an equal balance.

When I was voted in by my peers for the role of Deputy Presiding Officer in 2016, I saw an opportunity to showcase the work of women. Hosting events like our International Women’s Day celebrations and hearing from such inspiring women always reminds me of why I’m so passionate about promoting and supporting women in politics. It’s not always easy, and this year’s theme #EachforEqual emphasises the importance of equality throughout our society.

Inspirational talks

It was a pleasure to listen to such inspirational women at our event. Our speakers were Charlie Morgan, co-founder Warrior Women Events; Angel Ezeadum, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament and Sophie Rae, founder of Ripple Living.

Charlie Morgan, co-founder Warrior Women Events
Angel Ezeadum, Member of the Welsh Youth Parliament
Sophie Rae, founder of Ripple Living

Their talks were incredibly empowering and thought-provoking, and I’m grateful to them for sharing their stories with us. I was also pleased to welcome Betsan Powys to chair the event.

Betsan Powys and event speakers

We welcomed a mix of people to the Pierhead and it was a good opportunity to speak to people who might not have engaged with us before. I encourage you to stay in touch. Speak to your Assembly Members about the topics that are important to you. Visit us at the Senedd and you can keep up-to-date on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

What’s next?

As we celebrate 20 years of devolution in Wales, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. With the next Assembly elections being held in 2021, we’ll see for the first time votes extended to 16 an 17 year olds as part of the Senedd and Elections (Wales) Bill. I’m so excited about allowing even more of Wales’ population to have their voices heard. We’ll also be changing our name from the National Assembly for Wales to Senedd Cymru, Welsh Parliament as we reflect its ever evolving responsibilities.

The Assembly has signed up to the Race at Work Charter

Leadership Team posing with pledges saying proud to sign up to Race at Work Charter

We are pleased to announce we are now a signatory of the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter.

We know, from the Race Disparity Audit’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures website and the Business in the Community Race at Work Survey, that ethnic minorities still face significant disparities in employment and progression, and that is something that needs to change. The McGregor-Smith review has highlighted the fact that greater progress and positive outcomes are now needed to ensure all organisations benefit from the wealth of diverse talent on offer.

The Charter helps businesses improve racial equality in the workplace and is composed of five principle calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors. The five principle call to action are:

• Appointing an executive sponsor for race.

• Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress.

• Commit at Board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying.

• Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the
responsibility of all leaders and managers.

• Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

Map
BHM logo

October is Black History Month and seems a great time to launch the fact that we have signed up to the Charter. Signing up means we are committing to taking practical steps to improving ethnic equality in the workplace and tackling barriers that ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression and ensuring that our organisation is representative of British society today.

Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk of the National Assembly for Wales, said:

“Signing the Charter will complement our ongoing diversity work to ensure that, as a parliamentary organisation that is for all the people of Wales, we behave as an inclusive employer, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential and that we break down the barriers that currently block opportunities for certain groups of people irrespective of their race and ethnicity. I am very excited to see our progress as we embark upon the Charter, in addition to other benchmarking and recognition activities.”

Joyce Watson AM, Assembly Commissioner with responsibility for diversity and inclusion, said:

“I am really pleased to see that the Assembly Commission is a signatory to this charter. Wales is a diverse nation as this should be reflected in its workforce. As Commissioner for Equality and People I will both promote and monitor progress.”

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, said:

It is important that the Assembly continues to lead the way in promoting an inclusive culture throughout our organisation.

“We want to build on our record as a modern, accessible parliament with which people from a diverse range of backgrounds can easily and meaningfully interact.

“I see us signing this Charter as a valuable part of ensuring that.”

Business in the Community logo

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion

Neurodiversity is about recognising that people think about things differently. Most people’s brains work and interpret information similarly, however, others interpret information in different ways. This is just another way of accessing your environment.

Why it’s important that organisations embrace and support neurodiversity in the workplace

Organisations are realising that a diverse set of skills, experiences, perspectives and background fosters innovation. In turn, this can  increase productivity, customers’ needs are better catered for, along with shaping products and services offered.

The National Autistic Society reports that only 16% of adults with autism are in full time work. Many people with autism can work and are enthusiastic to find jobs which reflects their talent and interests. With a little understanding and small adjustments to the workplace, they can be a real asset to businesses across the UK.

What we are doing to attract and retain neurodivergent people

  • We have raised awareness of neurodivergent conditions, such as autism, among colleagues and managers, so that they are best placed to support neurodivergent colleagues in the workplace.
  • We have provided training for line managers on supporting and managing colleagues with autism.
  • We are constantly refining our job descriptions to give candidates a clearer sense of what’s involved in the job role.
  • We have taken steps to update our candidate packs. We are in the process of redesigning our recruitment webpages to ensure we are accessible to all.
  • We are currently reviewing our recruitment processes to maximise inclusion by ensuring our values are aligned with our recruitment.
  • We work with candidates to understand what support, if any, they will need if appointed. This can involve  adjustments to the sensory environment, such as providing quiet spaces to work, assistive software, noise-cancelling headphones, buddying and sensory aids.

 The Assembly Commission is a signatory of the Government’s Disability Confident Campaign – we are a Disability Confident Employer and have also been awarded the National Autism Society Autism Friendly Award.

As an employee at the Assembly Commission with a diagnosis of Autism and ADHD, I feel accepted for who I am, as a person living with these disabilities. The organisation has been very supportive towards my wish to work part-time as this is so suitable for my needs.

It was a great honour to deliver a presentation at a staff training session about autism where I had the chance to talk about my personal experiences in this area. This specialised staff training session greatly helped me and my line manager understand my needs and reasonable adjustments have been carried out as a result.

I look forward to continuing to gain more skills and experience during my employment here and continue to avidly contribute to the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

Assembly Commission employee

 

Promoting a Family Friendly Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion Week

This week, we are celebrating Diversity and Inclusion. Here at the Assembly, we work tirelessly  towards developing policies and procedures that support our goal of being an inclusive employer, helping us develop an organisational culture where people can be themselves, but also thrive and achieve their potential.

We work with our Workplace Equality Networks (WENs) to ensure that our employees can talk to and be supported by like-minded people. Staff who identify as a protected characteristic can come together and support each other, as well as offer advice on how we can become a more inclusive employer.

We recognise that it is increasingly becoming harder to juggle our day to day lives with our work, and so we are proud to have a range of flexible working arrangements which include flexi-time, part-time working, working from home, job share opportunities and career breaks. Our flexible working arrangements have consistently  earnt us a spot on the Top 30 Family Friendly Employer list.

Our TEULU Network is our working parents and carers WEN and its purpose is to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of needs and barriers to inclusion within the workplace;
  • influence and develop a range of policies, services and training around issues that could affect working parents and carers;
  • promote the rights and participation of working parents and carers in all aspects of the policies, practices and procedures within the Assembly Parliamentary Services;
  • actively contribute to the development and review of relevant policies via equality impact assessments; and
  • gather and promote information on a range of issues pertinent to working parents and carers

Look for the sunshine in the rain

Guest post from Bleddyn Harris, Organisational Development and Training Officer  – National Assembly for Wales. Diversity and Inclusion Week.

Rainbow

Noun

An arch of colours visible in the sky, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.

When Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag, I wonder if he ever truly understood how – alongside becoming an unapologetically fabulous and auspicious protest against the undue discrimination of love and identity – it perfectly encapsulated the experience of the many LGBTQ individuals who have used it as a shield in a world that doesn’t appear to want them: sunshine and rain, all at once.

When I think about being gay, I often come to the conclusion that it has been the single most painful and healing experience I have endured. Not that being gay is a painful experience, more that it has been the excuse so many have used when they have left me raw and exposed, often, and paradoxically, in the name of ‘love’. It has been a catalyst for people who do not know me, who will never meet me, who will never accept me, who will never love me, to call for me to be made illegal, to erase my history, to want me in jail, to think to beat me up, to stop me from getting married, to want me dead. See, it’s not all unicorns and drag queens, is it?

I don’t quite like to say that being my authentic self is in spite of the kinds of people I have named above because I feel it attributes all of the battles I have had to win with my self-esteem and self-acceptance to a bunch of people who will never care… but, yes, being myself is totally in spite of those people because I want them to know that I won’t let their bigotry get in the way of me living my life full of colour and with a love they seek to deny me.

I know, I know, I’m harping on about the negative aspects of this experience, but it’s only because I think the struggle is often overlooked by the idea that the community, specifically gay men, are a collective group of audacious and colourful people who are happy to be bold and bright and beautiful in their own way, no matter what. There’s never really a discussion about the internal monologues, the struggles, the fear we have when we walk down the street because ‘do I look too gay? Am I walking funny? People are looking: I should stop holding my partner’s hand’.

I feel this struggle, as well as everyone’s entirely personal and different experience of being a part of the LGBTQ community, was summed up in a conversation I had with a friend over dinner: we were talking about an LGBT talk we saw at the Hay Festival that centred on the Stonewall Uprising and the struggles we’ve endured and the successes the community has been given – please note that we have to be given the same right as our heterosexual and cis-gendered counterparts which means they can just as easily be given away. The conversation led to a question of whether we would take a pill to make us straight. I immediately said no without much thought. My friend said yes. He asked me why I would choose to live a life of living on the outskirts of being ‘normal’, a life of constantly looking over your shoulder because you walk/talk a certain way, a life of feeling like you’re only ever tolerated and not truly accepted. I gently reminded him that sometimes you need to look for the sunshine in the rain and know that we are able to live the life so many people before our time died dreaming of: their prayers, strength, and rebellion still protect us.

If you’ve managed to stay with me, I’d like to pay homage to those who came before me that I’ll never be able to meet, that I’ll never be able to thank. Too many of their names and stories have been forgotten. Why? I don’t know. Is it society trying to erase our history? Maybe. Is it society attempting to avoid their guilt by not bringing it up? Possibly. Is this absence of heroes still affecting the lives of millions of LGBTQ individuals who still feel like they don’t belong? Absolutely. Whatever it is, I mourn it. I mourn the history, the pride, the art, and the wisdom that has died with the gay men, the lesbians, the trans and non-binary individuals, people who are bi, the activists, the lovers, the thinkers, the queers, the ones who loved too much, the ones who trusted too much, the ones who made a silly mistake on a night out because they were trying to escape the cruel reality of their world filled with an unfiltered and unneeded hatred. I’m angry at how the lives, loves, and loss of these people are constantly being undermined in countries around the world. I’m angry that I’m still illegal in over 70 countries. I’m angry that there are protests against teaching children about different family dynamics. I’m angry that people are ignoring the fact that LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be affected by mental health issues. I’m angry that people think that our struggle is over because some laws have been changed to protect us.

But would I take a pill to make me straight? Absolutely not.

If I had to do it all over again, I would. I’d go through all the bullying, the rejection, the being told I have a demon inside of me that must be prayed away, being told I should die, being told I’m not worthy, being told that God doesn’t love me, being told I shouldn’t have been born, being told I’ll burn in hell, being asked to leave the church, being spat on nights out, being told I’m not a real man, being told I’d never be happy, because accepting myself and learning, each and every day, to love myself in the face of adversity has been worth it.

I don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t have the courage to accept myself and allow myself the love to find out who I am: a proud gay man.

It’s for these reasons that I work at the Assembly and pursue an active role within the OutNAW network: with such an openly inclusive and diverse staff, it was important to me to work in a place central to the development of Wales who exhibits the culture we need to make sure no bi voice goes unheard, no trans individual is told they can’t be who they are, that no lesbian teenager is bullied for being herself, that no gay has to think about whether they would take a pill to be straight.

rainbow flag

Organisational Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Guest post from Manon Antoniazzi, Chief Executive and Clerk  – National Assembly for Wales.

Today is the first day of our Diversity and Inclusion week.

The senior team and I are wholly committed to ensuring that as an employer and parliamentary organisation, we are an exemplar in our promotion of diversity, inclusion, equality and provision of accessible services.

In order to deliver this, we have developed our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and accompanying action plan which will help us deliver our diversity and inclusion vision and values.

The Strategy sets out how our staff deliver and promote inclusive, accessible services and achieve positive outcomes for people.

It 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.

As an employer and service provider, our organisation is committed to ensuring that no-one is disadvantaged or discriminated against on these grounds: discriminatory behaviour will be dealt with via our disciplinary procedures. Also, as an employer, we encourage flexible working practices whilst accommodating our business needs.

In line with the Assembly Commission’s strategic goals, 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, attracting and retaining talent, enabling everyone we employ to realise their full potential.

 


Manon Antoniazzi  – Chief Executive and Clerk


RESPECT

We are inclusive, kind, and value each other’s contributions in delivering excellent services.

PASSION

We are purposeful in our support of democracy and pull together to make a difference for the people of Wales.

PRIDE

We embrace innovation and celebrate our achievements together as a team.

WE ARE ONE TEAM