Q4 Update: Overview
The projects are now in the final quarter of Year One funding. The projects are all heavily involved in the implementation of new policies and procedures and the crucial task of scaling up. Each project has been engaged in sharing information and approaches at project, sector and/or cross sector level.
Five Ministerial visits have or are in the process of being organised during the quarter. These have been extremely encouraging for project staff, partners, participating employers and employees. Additional media coverage was secured around the visits.
“The impact of the partnership is evident in the changing approach around recruitment and readiness to engage with underrepresented groups in our society. The feedback received by the participants has been overwhelmingly positive. They found it transformational in their personal and professional lives, it helped them recognize and remove barriers and release potential.”
Anila Mirza, Equalities Manager, Historic Environment Scotland (HES).
Many partner leads have echoed the above message. New policies, practices and approaches are being carefully embedded to ensure lasting impact. Training programmes have been piloted and evaluated, supported by customised resource packs, dedicated digital platforms and an array of coaches, mentors and champions. The use of ‘safe spaces’ to enable both managers and employees to talk openly, share issues and hold difficult conversations were frequently reported.
Engagement continues to be strong across the partnerships covering all grades from senior managers, HR and support staff to participating employees. Several projects have established effective reference or steering groups to harness external expertise, provide a sounding board, improve knowledge, skills and practices as well as bringing a level of independent evaluation. Other projects are tapping into networking and consultancy opportunities. External input is also helping projects to share learning and to develop new partnerships. Project traction is at different stages however the transfer of skills and knowledge and the introduction of new policies, protocols and structures is evident in all of them. Embedding change is taking place at a strategic and operational level through mainly steady incremental steps.
A legacy reporting template has been designed to capture progress along with lessons learnt. This has been discussed with the project leads and is currently being evaluated by two projects. It is hoped that information gathered via the template will be used to inform future funding rounds and social impact analysis.
‘All Staff Briefings’ are commonly used by projects and have proved effective in keeping staff up to date with developments and opportunities. Social media reach has increased considerably with some projects reaching five figures and above with short campaigns playing an important role. The use of internal and external shared platforms continues to be extensively used to engage partners and are increasingly proving their worth in terms of sharing information and in meeting 24/7 self-learning demands.
The overall number of partners has exceeded expectations as has the number of sectors now involved. Virtually every area of Scotland has some level of participation including rural, remote areas and the Islands.
Employee reach has steadily grown with many projects now above the thousand mark. The important task of scaling and cascading training sessions is underway and will significantly ramp up the number of employees reached over the coming months.
Several projects have been approached by partners seeking access to additional or complimentary training and resource materials. Where these requests are out with original project remits the demand is met through non WEF resources. Many of the projects have also encountered increased demand for one-off help, support and guidance from employers, managers and employees. In one project this accounted for a 27% increase in general enquiries.
The scope of participants continues to be wider than originally envisaged. Some of the organisations involved in reference/steering groups have also developed their own WEF approaches as a result of their participation in the projects and are now pushing forward with their own plans to improve inclusion and career progression.
Ensuring the use of inclusive communication materials has been a common theme across the projects. Examples include the use of BSL videos, easy read leaflets, spoken text and accessible language. The value of organising outreach sessions in remote and rural locations has been reinforced with projects developing both digital and in person approaches. Staff canteens and company intranets have all been used to get messages across. Efforts have also been made to reach those employees with no ready access to digital information including through printed text and face to face meetings.
The use of short videos on YouTube and other social media is proving popular where employees work 24/7. The need for different learning materials and channels to suit different learning requirements and preferences has been recognised. Preconceptions that some of the training was ‘time expensive’ and could be compacted have been negated with participants recognising the depth of input necessary to embed change. Challenges and difficulties around reporting, GDPR, bureaucratic barriers, and a “fear of the unknown” have been noted.
A wide variety of training approaches are being utilised. The inclusion of managers, employees and trainers with lived experience is being woven into every project. Cascade training starting with CEOs and senior management teams is also proving productive. Reasonable Adjustment Passports are now being used by several projects in different forms.
Workforce surveys have been utilised, with a clear preference for shorter and quicker surveys. Although the overwhelming preference, from both those designing and completing them, is towards online surveys the importance of paper surveys has been underlined. Another challenge focused on employees with a caring role for a parent or a child. The use of reasonable adjustments can potentially ease such pressures for both employees and employers.
Webinar cancellations have been noted by a few projects and addressed through the systematic over booking of invitations. The need for sufficient time to pilot, test and adjust training has also been noted by several projects. Staff turnover amongst participants has been noted as a minor issue and solved through the organisation of additional training.
The need to shift organisational mindsets and speed up internal clearance procedures have been noted, albeit at a reduced level. The organisation of online and in-person evaluation sessions to tackle such issues, plan the next steps and share learning have proved invaluable. Associated with this issue the demand for regular one-off guidance and support from managers and HR staff has been greater than anticipated.
Information and case studies are being shared across all 13 projects. To date ten projects are involved in ongoing exchanges. The use of ‘shared spaces’ for participants and partners is regularly cited by projects as being central to their progress. For example, best practice on recruitment is being shared through such spaces with staff, employees and partners.
The engagement of senior managers within professional networks is proving an effective way of sharing best practice within and across sectors. Projects are also using institutional bodies and umbrella organisations to share information and engage new participants and partners.
As mentioned previously the use of short YouTube and web videos is commonly used by projects including on their social media channels.
Partners are actively supporting projects through a variety of in-kind and direct resourcing. These include offers to help fundraising, source independent legal expertise for a seminar programme, develop web pages and the release of support staff to assist in the delivery of training courses. Direct financial contributions have been made to one project, which will contribute to its long-term sustainability and this model is now being actively considered by two other projects. Input from universities is similarly common with five projects reporting ongoing liaison and knowledge exchanges.
Partners have also contributed towards the marketing, organisation and prioritisation of awareness raising and training courses. In a recent EDI audit 83% of companies reported that while more implementation was required they understood the gaps and were committed to filling them. This level of commitment is reflected in the comments of many partners “HR leaders giving time, expertise and guidance”, “Managers participating animatedly and openly” and “employees giving their time to offer lived experiences…in front of senior colleagues which takes courage”. The success of the current WEF round is down to both the lead organisations and the partners who are all playing an essential role at every stage of planning, implementation, and evaluation.
The application of mentoring and coaching approaches continues to be used by at least 5 projects. Coaching has been highly valued with, “87% feeling heard understood and respected” and “88% feeling their coach was a good fit”. Specialist training on listening has similarly been used extensively and to great success. Reflective models have been used to improve awareness of communication styles and encouraging participants to be more aware of how they can maintain positive relationships at work.
The use of short films, toolkits and resource packs are popular and are being used to meet the demand for self-directed learning from both employers and employees. This is particularly evident in businesses operating 24/7 but is also popular where managers have requested access to training materials out with their normal office hours. In some instances, longer training session have been requested by participants and a greater use of break out rooms to enable more use to be made of peer group discussions. Some participants/organisations have also asked for more time to absorb the issues raised in training and to work though practical implementation challenges.
The value of cascade training in large organisations is widely shared. Where applied it has helped to ensure senior management buy-in as well as offering a logistical solution to the need for a companywide training approach. The use of ‘safe spaces’ to encourage open discussion and learning continues to be used extensively and have greatly assisted both engagement and communication.
The projects are all on budget. Some have already committed their Year One budget while others are on target to use their budget by the end of the financial year.
Good progress continues to be made as the projects approach the end of Year One. Overall reach has been exceeded and there is clear evidence of improvements in skills, knowledge, and practices; information sharing; the creation of inclusive working environments; embedding of sustainable change.
Individual Project Updates
Voices for Change: Disability & Women, by NHS Dumfries and Galloway in partnership with Sleeping Giant and DG Voice
DIveIn Programme, by Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), formerly the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, in partnership with Radiant and Brighter and Balfour Beatty
Age Inclusion for People Managers and Key Influencers, by Age Scotland in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Business School
Refugees in Social Care Careers by the Scottish Refugee Council, in partnership with Fair Deal
Leadership Programme for BAME Employees, by PATH Scotland in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
Accessibility for All by Connect Three Solutions, in partnership with the Passion4Social CIC agency
Diversity Works, by Adopt an Intern in partnership with Aegon Asset Management