Inclusion is to be at the heart of Kirklees Council’s plans for recovery post-pandemic and council leader Shabir Pandor said: “Diversity is our biggest strength.”

The council’s proposed Inclusion and Diversity Strategy will be reviewed by Cabinet this week ahead of going to full council for approval in January.

The four priorities of the new strategy are Inclusion First, Project Search, Culturally Confident Colleagues and Inclusion Allies.

Inclusion First will ensure that council services embed inclusion at the beginning of the planning stage of any project or piece of work.

By doing so the council can work more efficiently alongside Kirklees communities who need their support the most.

With only 9% of adults with learning disabilities in paid work in Kirklees, the council has entered into a partnership with Project Search and Kirklees College to provide one-year internships to young adults.

Over the coming years the council want to increase the number of internships offered and aim to retain 50% of each Project Search cohort to be full-time members of staff.

Clr Shabir Pandor

Culturally Confident Colleagues will ensure that council staff are trained to recognise and understand people’s cultural values which will enhance service delivery and enable the council to become a more inclusive employer.

Building on the success of the internal employee networks the council plan to introduce ‘Inclusion Allies.’

These allies would be a new tier of members who would challenge exclusion, amplify the voice of the network and champion inclusion and diversity in everything they do.

Kirklees Council has been recognised for its positive work on inclusion and diversity by award nominations.

Council leader Clr Shabir Pandor said: “This strategy puts inclusion at the heart of everything the council does. It reflects our ambition to leave no one behind in our recovery from the pandemic.

“We made some really positive achievements towards our inclusion and diversity agenda in such challenging circumstances during the pandemic and I’m so proud of our residents, staff and partners who were instrumental in this.

“From flying the Windrush flag over the town hall, celebrating our first ever South Asian History Month, marking the route of the Pride march in Huddersfield on its 40th anniversary, the Iroko project being nominated for a European Diversity Award, the launch of our health checks programme for those most at risk, Project Search, and our name blind recruitment, to name a few.

“But we must not be complacent, we have more work to do and much more progress to make.

“I want Kirklees Council to be an employer of choice for all of our residents. To do that we must be honest about where we currently are and what improvements we need to see while also not being shy to shout about the excellent work we continue to do.

“Our diversity is our biggest strength in Kirklees and we are on a journey to maximising it.”