Inclusion from the inside out – a strategic approach

Published on 6 October 2020
Written by Tony Burnett, Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion, West Midlands Police
West Midlands Police – covering Birmingham where 42% of the population are from a BAME background – need a diverse workforce, but this will only happen if we are inclusive
Case study
2 mins read
Tony Burnett

My challenge at West Midlands Police (WMP) – covering one of the most multicultural counties in Britain – is to improve representation, which is currently at about 12% for Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff.

Our business case is about driving legitimacy. The bottom line is that we can’t be effective if we are not representative. We want to create an organisational culture where colleagues from diverse backgrounds respect and behave appropriately towards each other.

One of the reasons that diversity and inclusion (D&I) has not always worked elsewhere is because the approaches used have often been simplistic and based on platitudes. In 2018, here at WMP, we developed and published an all-encompassing three-year D&I strategy that has four overarching goals:

  1. Inclusive culture – we will build the architecture and environment that sustains this.
  2. Inclusive leaderships – our leaders actively lead inclusion and role-model inclusive behaviours.
  3. Colleague diversity – our workforce will better reflect the communities we serve, in order to better serve the communities we reflect.
  4. Inclusive reputation and service – we will strive to build trusted relationships with all the communities we serve.

Each member of the executive team takes responsibility for a strand of the strategy. We plan to embed D&I into all business owners' activities, systems and processes within three to five years.

We expect it to permeate the whole organisation. Therefore, we are ensuring that each department has its own D&I plan. We’ve suggested a process that they should follow, which involves auditing their staff for protected characteristics, consulting with colleagues and then, with reference to the overall strategy, creating a plan.

In terms of changing the culture, this is probably the single most important thing we are doing.

West Midlands Police D&I strategy 2018-21

  Year 1: Perform for success Year 2: Enable the business Year 3: Business ownership

Change dialogue from diversity to inclusion

Support leaders to drive agenda

Improve recruitment representation

Drive D&I capability

Stakeholder clarity

Build D&I into processes

HR Business Partners enable ownership with Senior Leadership Team

Clear and deliverable representation goals

Increased public and colleague legitimacy

Make D&I business as usual

Organisational ownership

Reduced reliance on D&I team

Clear systems and processes embedded for delivering D&I

Areas of focus

Detailed business case

Dialogue and courageous conversations

Governance processes

Leadership capability and accountability


PA recruitment

PA development

Dignity at work

Inclusive reputation and service

Talent identification and development

D&I toolkits

Performance management

Departmental plans

Fairness in policing

Cultural competence development

Clear external commitment to achievable representation goals

Selected external benchmarks

Talent identification and development

D&I toolkits

D&I toolkits

D&I built into performance objectives for all

D&I infrastructure fully embedded and working

Best practice model sharing across the police force

External recognition for successes (robust and tangible to share with colleagues)

Talent identification and development

Accountability D&I team D&I team, people organisation development, business People organisation development, business

Our D&I strategy has traction because Chief Constable Dave Thompson leads from the front and is uncompromising. Nobody is in any doubt about where he stands on D&I. He’s just signed up to stay at WMP for another three years.

This is important because it gives a clear message to the naysayers that the momentum we’ve developed over the past 18 months around D&I is going to be maintained. The chief instigated the D&I strategy and he’s going to see it through to the end.