The Southwark Stand Together pledges

On 4 June 2020, our Chief Executive, Eleanor Kelly, wrote to all Southwark staff, responding to the horrendous death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis. In that message she said that the death showed us all how far we still need to go before we live in a world that values every life equally, and treats every person with the same respect, love and compassion.

With that in mind, the council announced the Southwark Stands Together programme, to be led by Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning. This work includes:

  • an anti-racist audit of the borough to identify statues and street names that do not reflect our borough's diversity, especially anything with links to slavery or our country's colonial past, and to identify positive opportunities for the celebration of more diverse figures
  • a listening exercise with communities across the borough, partner organisations, and our staff, to hear their concerns, and identify solutions to address entrenched and persistent racism and injustice
  • a call to all businesses and organisations in the borough to work with us to implement these solutions, taking positive action to ensure equality of opportunity

The Southwark Stand Together pledges

In August 2020, our senior leadership and cabinet members signed off our council pledges and commitment to tackle racism and inequality in the borough of Southwark.

The pledges are part of our renewed promise to be proactive and anti-racist in our approach to stamp out racism and address inequalities. We intend for these formal commitments to spur us on in our work to address the issues of concern highlighted over the last few months by our staff and residents.

Lasting change requires us all to listen, learn, and sometimes make changes to our thinking and behaviour. This is not always easy to do, but when we follow through with it, we can all help to bring about the change needed around us.

We all have a part to play and can achieve the greatest results when we work together. We hope that colleagues across the council show their support for our commitments to make Southwark Council and the borough of Southwark a better place for everyone.

We pledge to:

  • promote an open and transparent culture where employees who experience/see racism or discrimination are able to raise it and expect the issue to be dealt with swiftly and fairly
  • listen to and amplify our diverse voices within our organizations on how we create an inclusive, fair and representative workplace at all levels
  • work to address and prevent structural racial inequalities and structural racism within our organization, the organizations we partner with and within the service the service we deliver
  • champion organizations that address racial injustice and organizations that promote equality and diversity
  • ensure that people of all backgrounds can rise to the top of the organisation

The Southwark Stands Together workforce stream

We know that addressing racism, inequality and injustice is complex and it will take time and dedicated work in multiple areas to achieve lasting progress. We all have a part to play and together we can make a difference. 

Within the Southwark Stands Together workforce stream, we have nine recommendations.

  1. Renew workforce statistics and work with EDI partner on the creation of targets and measures to build a more, inclusive workforce at all levels
  2. Look at our corporate learning and development offer and review our workforce development schemes including career progression, coaching, mentoring and reverse mentoring
  3. Use the outcomes from the focus groups to inform the review and, where appropriate revision of the council’s employment policy and procedures
  4. Use the outcomes of our listening circles, upcoming focus groups and ongoing engagement activities to inform a workplan, which will include measurable objectives and outcomes
  5. Renew our commitment to equality and anti-racism with refreshed and on-going internal communications, and engagement activities. Themes will include but are not limited ally-ship, white privilege, gas lighting, micro-aggressions and incivilities
  6. Embark upon an on-going retraining and re-education programme of our leaders and managers so that they understand the critical roles they play in addressing racism, structural racism and injustice in the workforce. We want to ensure our leaders are actively anti-racist
  7. Review our engagement strategy with all staff with a view to create more dynamic two-way communication channels between staff, trade unions and workforce leads on highlighting opportunities and also areas of concern to ensure our support is appropriate and targeted
  8. Ensure there is always a safe space in which staff feel they can share their lived experiences of working at Southwark free from any repercussions
  9. Work with equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) partner in the next phase of staff engagement

To achieve the recommendations, we have assembled a core group of colleagues from Human Resources, Organization Transformation, Public Health and Communications.

Page last updated: 08 December 2020

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