Equality, diversity and the business case: the migration of the responsibility for Fire and Rescue to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) sees the appointment of a new Minister with that portfolio. Amongst the first of her many new duties Angela Smith was on hand to launch the new national advertising campaign aimed at raising the awareness of frontline firefighting as a career for women.(Research Institute)

ALTHOUGH THE PRIMARY MESSAGE here is aimed at women, the inference of the Minister's address to her audience is that this is the start to a renewed drive towards a diverse Fire Service workforce reflective of society.

"This latest campaign forms part of a general drive towards greater equality and diversity in the Fire and Rescue Service. The government remains committed to creating a modern workforce that genuinely reflects by age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief and sexuality, the community it serves."

The aspirations remain the same and the message is not new but will the impact be any different? There is now a well rehearsed statement quoting the definition of insanity as doing exactly the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome each time. So if the DCLG, the Minister and the Fire and Rescue Service are not to be found insane then something new has to be put in if the required change in outcomes is to be achieved. Is this the dawn of new initiatives that will drive diversity forward or is it just some more of the same?

Developing Diversity

Over the period of time that diversity has been an issue for the Service we have seen a shifting justification for making it a priority. The establishment in statute of the primary pieces of equality legislation saw, after a bedding in period, the legal case being made during the early to mid 1980s.

The difficulties that arose from a regime of compliance saw the emergence of the moral case during the subsequent decade with the quest for hearts and minds being the focus. Unfortunately the depth of the underlying Fire Service culture would have meant that any change coming from this approach would certainty be evolutionary. …

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