As Pride Month 2022 comes to a close, ensuring LGBTQIA+ employees (alongside individuals possessing other protected characteristics) are represented and satisfied in the workplace has never been more crucial.
In the Office of National Statistics’ 2020 Annual Population Survey, 3.1% of the UK’s population aged 16 or over identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, an increase from 2.7% in 2019. Subsequently, buyers are keen to understand in tenders which measures bidding organisations are putting in place to encourage recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce, representative of the wider UK or more regional populations.
Tender questions focusing on equality, inclusion and diversity vary in content, often aligned with the requirements detailed in the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 or individual buyer policies and priorities. However, key themes that frequently appear in invitations to tender (ITTs), selection questionnaires (SQs) or requests for proposals (RFPs) include:
- Organisational policies in place to communicate the bidder’s commitment to ensuring equality, inclusion and diversity to stakeholders.
- Fair recruitment methods to encourage candidates from minority backgrounds to apply for jobs.
- Fair employment practices, demonstrating how all employees have equal access to opportunities, pay and career growth, focused on performance and experience and eliminating any pay gaps.
- How individuals sharing protected characteristics (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disabilities etc.) are supported to remain in work and reach their full potential.
- Training initiatives implemented to educate the workforce on key equality, diversity and inclusion-related matters and how colleagues can create a safe, productive working environment for those who share protected characteristics or are from minority backgrounds (including internal staff, as well as stakeholders, clients and customers).
- Any other methods to promote inclusion, such as sharing educational newsletters on religious holidays, holding cultural events or providing an open forum for minority colleagues to share their concerns.
To achieve the highest marks when answering equality and diversity questions in tenders, bidders will often be expected to provide meaningful, specific examples to evidence how promoting inclusion is at the heart of their operations and is a key part of service delivery. Based on our experience producing over 600 tender submissions every year, this could involve:
- Attaching key policies (if permitted), such as general equality, diversity and inclusion policy or documents covering more specific areas, such as anti-racism, disability awareness or whistleblowing to report any discrimination, bullying or harassment. Depending on any formatting restrictions, the response could also include a brief overview of the policy content, reassuring the buyer that the bidder organisation understands equality and diversity-related issues and how to manage them.
- Providing statistics and targets to show how consistent, effective efforts have been made to improve workforce diversity, producing tangible results. For example, in male-orientated industries like construction or finance, bidders might showcase an increase in female employees in management positions and an associated target to further improve this over the upcoming year.
- Offering specific measures implemented as part of fair recruitment measures, such as anonymising CVs to prevent bias, using gender-neutral language in job advertisements to avoid alienation and consistently monitoring workforce characteristics, ensuring any under-represented groups are identified and targeted going forward.
- Accessibility arrangements in place to accommodate staff with additional needs or disabilities, introducing initiatives such as flexible working hours, remote working or specialist equipment.
- Any accreditations or memberships with key industry groups (e.g. registering as an equal opportunities employer or gaining Disability Confident certification).
- Introducing a workplace inclusion calendar, ensuring key cultural, religious or awareness-raising events are identified and celebrated, encouraging cross-workforce cohesion. For example, attending a Pride parade or fundraising days to commemorate Transgender Day of Visibility.
- Evidencing a structured equality and diversity training programme and regular toolbox talks, delivered either internally by a dedicated training manager or externally through a third-party provider, covering key areas such as mental health awareness, disability equality, overcoming unconscious bias and the importance of treating all people with respect, compassion and dignity.
Buyers also may expect bidders to report on their equality, diversity and inclusion measures either through the TOMs social value calculator or independently, ensuring their organisation is on track or has achieved targets on an ongoing basis, promoting continuous improvement.
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