Government Departments: Disabled Staff

House of Lords written question – answered on 16th December 2014.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they have taken following the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Diversity and Equality Report (April 2014), which showed that staff with a disability reported higher experiences of discrimination, bullying or harassment than overall averages.

Photo of Baroness Anelay of St Johns Baroness Anelay of St Johns Minister of State

Following the 2013 Staff Survey results, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)’s Human Resources Committee formed a Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination (BHD) Action Group (chaired by a Director General, and made up of representatives from Human Resources, staff associations and Posts overseas). This group has worked towards developing a better working culture, encouraging staff to tackle or raise a concern as soon as possible and dispelling any perception that concerns will not be taken seriously and acted upon. We will continue to reinforce the message that managers are required to treat seriously all concerns raised; to be initially neutral; and to take action as appropriate. Advice on our Intranet has been streamlined, made more user-friendly, and is accessible to all staff. There is also a ‘Respect Toolkit’ offering further guidance on BHD issues, and we are developing the role of our global network of ‘First Response Officers’ who can help support and advise individuals over BHD related concerns. These actions are not specific to staff with disabilities but cover all staff raising concerns about BHD. The 2014 staff survey results are currently being analysed and we will again act on the outcomes of that analysis.

The FCO’s Human Resources Directorate has a dedicated Disability Support Team. This team is responsible for providing advice and support to disabled colleagues and their line managers, and for raising disability awareness and confidence across our organisation. The Team work with contracted experts who help to raise awareness and provide support materials across the disability spectrum. This includes providing one-to-one support, and support at team and departmental level as required. Currently we are also running a number of regular “all staff drop-in awareness sessions” which each have a focus on an individual disability. We are also working closely with Civil Service colleagues on a more joined up approach to disability support across the Civil Service.

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