"There is a serious danger that fire policy will be developed on the basis of work carried out in the context of the market place rather than being underpinned by research which has been subjected to full process of academic rigour and peer review" Professor D Drysdale (European Vice-Chair, International Association of Fire Safety Sciences) and D T Davis (Chair of the Executive Committee, Institution of Fire Engineers). Fire Engineers Journal 61, 10, 6-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Expanding Equal Opportunities into Dorset Fire and Rescue Service                       

                                                - An Independent Study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

R.P. Boniwell  Technical Support Officer Dorset Fire & Rescue Service Colliton Park Dorchester

R. Boniwell BA (Hons) GIFireE DMgt

 

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 1.  Executive Summary

 

This project report has been commissioned to satisfy the assessment criteria set by the Institute of Management for completion of Modules one and two of the Diploma in Management course syllabus.  This work began in September 2000 and was completed in June 2001.

 

This project will achieve this by addressing management responsibility issues (criterion 1.1), cultural issues (criterion 1.3), support required (criterion 1.4), conflicting objectives (criterion 2.2) and strategic objectives (criterion 2.4).

 

Primary research and methodology has been carried out incorporating comprehensive questionnaires that consolidate qualitative and quantitative data, together with structured interviews to support the findings and offer in depth analysis.  The author has selected a broad range of groups within the organisation as the basis for his research, the purpose of which was to ensure he gained diverse and realistic feedback to support the analysis.  Research design and method are discussed in further detail in this project.

 

Secondary research has been sourced from a number of fields, including the internet, college and university libraries, prior related research projects and studies, journals, newspaper cuttings and college handouts.  Details regarding secondary research can be found in the bibliography.  In addition the author has applied his own anecdotal experience, where necessary, to support the discussion.

 

The main body of this project aims to critically analyse the data and information consolidated from both primary and secondary research, combined with the author’s own anecdotal experience in this complicated area, offering logical arguments for and against certain issues.  In highlighting and drawing out particular arguments, the author will provide a basis for the reader to ascertain the problems that face the fire service, in particular, the issue of culture, which, as we shall see, serves as a severe constraint for making forward progress in a 21st century local authority run organisation.

 

This project will conclude with a summary of the salient points, together with recommendations for future consideration and/or implementation by strategic managers of the Personnel and Training Department.  The author also intends this research to made available for all personnel intending to conduct further research into this area and therefore a copy of this project will be retained by the Service.

 

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2.   Introduction

 

What do we mean when we talk about “Equal Opportunities”?  What thoughts are conjured in the minds of the individual?  Is it possible that when this question is asked of a vast number of public sector employees the same answer is likely to come up?  Is there doubt in your mind, the reader, that you are confident you know what is meant by the term “Equal Opportunities”?  Is there a difference between equal opportunities and managing diversity?  Is there a difference between equal opportunities and fairness at work?  We hear so much in the media these days about the company boss who has made undesired comments and gestures to a female employee or the Asian employee who has been subjected to unwelcome comments of the grounds of his skin.  How far does Equal Opportunities go?  Is it all about Sexual Harassment and Racial Discrimination?  After all – this is what we hear about on the news.  This is what the media appear to love to get their teeth into and when an institution like the Fire Service is involved, no matter what other profession, no matter what other characteristics an individual may have, if he or she is related to the fire service in any way, shape or form, the press will pounce.  This project will endeavour to find the answers.

 

The fact of the matter is that whilst there is so much cross contamination of information and numerous interpretations of the laws that enforce equal opportunities, confusion on the part of the employee and indeed, the manager is likely to be present so how can this be overcome?  Training is the popular universal answer but as we shall see from the evidence contained within this project, the answers lie much deeper than training in its literal sense.

 

By its own admission, the Fire Service is well out of touch with the kind of representation that it needs to reflect on the society it represents.  Indeed the statistics speak for themselves.  In 1998 there were only 513 people from black and ethnic minorities and 436 women employed in a service with a wholetime uniformed (excluding control room staff) strength of 33,597 and a retained (part-time) service of 14,483 (1).  Reflected as a percentage, the figures are startling.  As a percentage female firefighters make up 0.75%, whilst  black and ethnic minorities make up 0.74% overall (2).  The chart below illustrates the imbalance:

2.1     It is difficult to define what is exactly meant by the term “Equal Opportunities”, yet it is a term that many of us, if not all, are familiar with.  The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) describe equal opportunities as “…a human rights issue.  It is about treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.  It is about fairness and treating all people with respect” (3).  This would suggest that equal opportunities is more about culture, a way of thinking, a change in the perception that employees may have about the roles of individuals in the workplace.  Torrington and Hall reinforce this notion:

 

 

Equal opportunities approaches have sought to influence behaviour through legislation so that discrimination is prevented.  It has been characterised by a moral and ethical stance promoting the rights of all members of society. (4)

 

 

The critical reader would already be asking themselves about the validity of equal opportunities.  Why have it?  Sure, it’s merely a trend, a phase that organisations will go through, a kind of cycle that eventually will revert back to “the way it was in the good old days”.   For those amongst us who believe in those antiquated concepts, legislation decreed that equal opportunities would be accepted and they would be adopted by ALL organisations and institutions under UK law and in the majority of Western Countries, international law.  Appendix A lists the legislation that enforces equal opportunities under UK law.  The author will address the importance and influence of law and equal opportunities further into this project.

 

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) has reacted to not only the legislation that is mandatory under UK law but also to the recommendations of the Home Office with regard to equality and fairness in the fire service by implementing a series of documents enforcing these values, but do they go far enough?  This project will analyse how DFRS has implemented equal opportunities but also recommendations on what it can also do to expand them further to its workforce.  The research carried out by the author will determine how well equal opportunities have been understood and accepted by its workforce, enabling Management to ascertain whether they have done enough to influence the change in an almost “cast iron”, traditional culture that surrounds the Fire Service as it enters into a new era in the 21st Century.

 

Such is the strength of the culture in the fire service that the Home Office Inspectorate (HMI) wrote a declaration in 1997, stating  that there was no major problem with equal opportunities and how it relates to the Fire Service.

 

 

 

 

…the Inspectorate always encourage Chief Fire Officers to address, as a priority, any problems relating to racial or sexual discrimination which may have been detected within their brigades.  I am pleased to report that there is no evidence to suggest this is a major problem at this time. (5)

 

 

Ironic it was then, that the HMI produced the Thematic Review on Fairness and Equality in 1999, which, amongst other recommendations, found criticism “…of many aspects of the management and equality and fairness in the fire service”.  “There is an overriding imperative for the service to move forward to recognise the importance of diversity in every context and welcome the opportunities and benefits that diversity brings”. (6)  Would this reflect on the way in which DFRS dealt with equal opportunities issues?

 

2.8  For the purposes of this project the author will focus on the problems that exist for the female firefighter for it is in this arena that there has been much controversy as witnessed not only by DFRS but also many other Brigades, most notably Hereford and Worcestershire, where a female employee, Tanya Clayton (see appendix I), successfully won an industrial tribunal against the Fire Authority for a breech of employment law.  Despite the fact that this project may directly relate to equal opportunities examples of prejudice against female employees, the circumstances pertaining to equality in the workplace are generic, regardless of sex, race, colour, religion, creed, etc. 

 

2.9  It will not be the purpose of this project to thoroughly examine the intricacies of employment law and provide lists of legislative interpretation.  The true focus of this project is to research the level of understanding and awareness of the DFRS workforce, examine the strength of the culture in the wake of previous research into the culture of metropolitan Brigades, such as London Fire Brigade, consolidate the findings into coherent and structural analysis before drawing conclusions and formulating recommendations, based on those findings.  It is also the intention of the author to draw on theoretical research, combining this with his own anecdotal experience and support of the qualitative and quantitative data to add weight to the discussions and arguments that are considered throughout this project.

 

 

3.   Research Method

 

3.1 Design

 

3.1.1.  The first part of the author’s research involved the formulation of a questionnaire designed to gain qualitative and quantitative data feedback.  The questions were formulated primarily to gauge the level of understanding of equal opportunities of the target group.

 

3.1.2.   The second part of the author’s research involved a series of structured, informal interviews, again, targeted at various levels within the organisation.  The author felt that the interviews were necessary to support the evidence purported by the questionnaires, thus making the study more valid.   

 

3.2 Participants

 

3.2.1.   The author selected a target group of 200 participants for the questionnaire, from all parts of the organisation, involving uniformed and non-uniformed personnel.  The purpose of this selection was to ensure diversity as far as possible and understand how equal opportunities are being perceived by subordinates, operational managers and strategic managers.  The author would therefore gain valuable feedback from a straightforward cross-section of the organisation.

 

3.2.2.   Participants were therefore chosen from Service Headquarters, where the majority of senior managers and non-uniformed personnel were located; Area Headquarters and West Moors Training Centre for operational managers and three fire stations for the opinions of subordinates and junior officers.

 

3.2.3.  The author interviewed 6 personnel, again from various departments and levels within the organisation.  This supported the evidence that had been returned via the questionnaires and also allowed the author to gain a realistic, hands on, opinion of the participant,  thus avoiding any contamination of information that the questionnaires may have offered.

 

3.2.4.  The participants the author selected for the interview were predominantly based at Service Headquarters as he was able to gain feedback from senior, operational, non-uniformed managers and non-uniformed subordinates.  However, it was necessary for the author to visit one fire station to obtain feedback from firefighters and junior officers.

3.3 Materials

 

3.3.1.  An example of the questionnaire that was distributed to the target group can be found under Appendix C.  The first page asks the participant for straightforward quantitative data by answering the questions with a simple yes/no answer.  There is also an opportunity to comment further with one or two of the questions, thereby offering some qualitative feedback in support.   The second page of the questionnaire deals totally with qualitative data, which the author felt necessary in order to obtain clarity of understanding, rather than simply ticking a yes/no box.  The questionnaires also required the participants to identify from what part of the organisation they were from.  The advantage of this is that the author can identify to a certain degree, what parts of the organisation require more focus with regard to equal opportunities input.  There was also an opportunity for personnel to make additional comments and/or suggestions with regard to equal opportunities as there can be some useful conceptions from staff that one may not have thought of, perhaps relating to the design and implementation of additional training.

 

3.3.2.  In order to clarify instruction on completing the questionnaires and to establish the purpose, a guidance note was also dispatched, a copy of which can be found under Appendix B.  The guidance note also stated quite clearly the deadline by which the questionnaire had to be completed.  All participants were assured that the information given to the author would remain confidential at all times and that their answers would not reflect directly back onto them.  However, it must be stated that the author’s recommendations from this project may well be used to target certain areas in the organisation for additional training.

 

3.3.3.   The structured interviews operated in a very similar format.  Appendix E illustrates the question format and the way in which the author jotted down notes according to the answers given by the participants.  The structured interviews were a reliable source of gaining accurate, qualitative data from the participants.

 

3.3.4.   Appendix D illustrates the guidance note that was offered and explained to each participant before taking part in the interview.  The guidance note, similar to that in Appendix B, explains the purpose of the research and the format the interview will take, together with the likely duration.

3.4 Procedure

 

3.4.1.  Due to the author’s heavy workloads, the questionnaire was not distributed until the mid part of April 2001.  However, the author felt that this was still enough time for participants to answer the questionnaire, with some three weeks in total before the questionnaire had to be returned.  Under different circumstances the author would have liked to have distributed the questionnaires earlier and allowed a full month before asking for the return of the questionnaires.

 

3.4.2.  Before distributing the questionnaire and guidance note, the author sought the advice of the DFRS Personnel Manager for her opinion and to ensure that Service Policy was not being contravened in any way.  The Personnel Manager had no objectionable comments to make on the first draft.  The author then approached the Personnel, Training and Development (PTD) Manager for his thoughts and advice.  The PTD Manager decided that more qualitative data needed to be sourced to make the questionnaire effective. This inspired the author to make changes to the questionnaire, with the questioning now covering two sides of A4 paper.  This did not seriously affect the desired outcomes as it was possible to photocopy the questions onto both sides on one piece of A4 paper.  Furthermore, the author was able to send some questionnaires out via e-mail attachment, enabling personnel to print their own copies and return them via the internal mail system.

 

3.4.3.  Due to the time constraints and poor initial distribution of the questionnaires, the author decided to extend the return date by one week in the hope that more questionnaires would be returned.  Despite optimistic and thorough encouragement from the author to motivate staff to complete the questionnaire, many were seen in managers’ in-trays untouched, as well as on fire stations, which indicated to the author that the questionnaire would probably only be answered by those members of staff who had time to complete it, understood the questions and felt they wanted to make a contribution to the research.

 

3.4.4.  Confidentiality was emphasised to those who took part in the questionnaire and although some took heed to this most questionnaires that were returned did not come in a sealed envelope as requested.  The information could therefore be read by third parties before the author was able to analyse the results himself.  However, this did not affect the outcomes of the research.  Use of the DFRS internal mail system was utilised to facilitate the distribution and return of questionnaires and the fact that the author and participants did not have to spend money on postage.  The disadvantage of this method of circulation is that personnel may have felt uncomfortable with having to complete a questionnaire in the presence of others in the workplace and may have therefore preferred the questionnaire to be sent to their home addresses.

 

3.4.5.  Once the questionnaire cut-off date was reached, the author did not accept any more returned sheets, which was fortunate in that no further forms were returned.  The author therefore continued his research incorporating semi-structured interviews with key members of the Service, again covering all levels within the organisation, at different locations.

 

3.4.6.  Each participant taking part in the interview was given the interview guidance note (see appendix D), that detailed the format of the interview, its confidentiality and the purpose for which the interview would be taking place.  All participants understood the guidance and were happy to continue with the interview.  The questions were shown and each question read to the participant before answering.  The author made brief notes on the answers that were given.  Appendix E lists the questions that were asked of each participant.

 

3.4.7.  The interviews were carried out well, partly due to the fact that those taking part actually wanted to become involved and have their opinion voiced.  Another factor for this success was the fact that the author travelled himself to the participants’ place of work, rather than requesting that they visit him for this purpose.  All participants answered honestly and with an acceptable level of detail.  Occasionally there was a tendency to go off at a tangent, describing personal experiences, rather than the question in hand but the author allowed this to happen to a certain degree, as he felt that some additional information may be forthcoming from this.

4.   Results

 

4.1.      Once the research was completed the author consolidated the data and carried out the analysis.  The author achieved this by perusing each questionnaire and interview notes sheet, making generic comments and counting the quantitative data, dividing the questionnaires and interview sheets into three areas of understanding:  comprehensive, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.  The author also compared the quality of answer with the level the individual served within the organisation in order to gain an understanding of the level of knowledge possessed for each level of management.

 

4.2       McNeil states that a 30-40% return of questionnaire is usually expected from research such as that the author has undertaken, which rather suggests that the author’s return of 21% from the 200 papers that were distributed is disappointing (7).  However, the author is satisfied that he received an even distribution of returned questionnaires from most departments, ensuring diversity in response and therefore supporting evidence to develop assumptions and trends.

           

4.3 The author refers to appendix F, that illustrates a results table derived from the quantitative data question sheet in Appendix C.  The author counted the number of replies and presented the data as a percentage of the total number of questionnaires received.  The author will now analyse the results of each question before moving onto the qualitative data received from both questionnaire and interview.

 

4.4 The author will refer to appendix F for the results analysis and therefore requests that the reader has this sheet available.  The author was satisfied that a broad diversity of questionnaires were received from the DFRS workforce, evident from the fairly even percentage from each managerial level.  The most significant findings here is that the highest number of returns were 21% of “operational, watch based” personnel and  17% of “non-unformed” personnel, which allows the author to conclude that personnel at the Service delivery end, the direct contact with the customer, gave the most feedback.  The lowest figure of return was from “operational, office based” and “station/area officers”, with a total of 12%, whilst 10% declined to state from what part of the organisation they were from.

 

4.5 Question 5 related to the appropriateness of Service equal opportunities policies and it was notable that 52%, a clear majority, agreed that they were.  19% were unsure about this, perhaps indicating that personnel are generally not aware of the content Service equal opportunities policies or simply felt that the question was beyond their level of understanding.  29% of “not sure” answers proved to be the highest in its field.

 

4.6 Question 6 was not conclusive with 48% of the workforce agreeing that the Service is doing enough to eliminate inequality in the work place, whilst 40% disagreed.  The lack of a majority percentage indicates confusion in the workforce.  Most participants did support their answers with a comment, substantiating the scores, but again the comments were equally divided.

 

4.7 Question 7 gave a clear indication, with 60%, that equal opportunities will affect the way in which personnel will work, with 33% disagreeing.  It was noted by the author that most of the participants answered this question with an air of negativity, stating that equal opportunities will have a detrimental effect on the way in which they would work.

 

4.8 Question 8 asked the participants whether they had been treated unfairly in light of their knowledge of equal opportunities policies, within the last two years, significantly the time when the HMI Thematic Review on Fairness and Equality was released and the time when certain forums and support groups became more prominent in DFRS.  As expected, 69% felt that they had not been treated unfairly, whilst 12% were unsure.  Disappointingly for the Service, however, was the fact that 19% felt they had been treated unfairly, when the aim should be 0.  Those that felt that had been treated unfairly supported their answers with comments, some of which were current and ongoing.

 

4.9 Question 9 was inconclusive with 41% of participants stating they were familiar with and understood union support groups, whilst 45% were not.  14% were unsure.  Most participants named the Lesbian and Gay and Women support groups, offered by the FBU, but little in the way of non-uniformed support groups were mentioned, bearing in mind the percentage of non-uniformed responses.  Some participants stated that they were not members of any union and therefore could not comment.  For those that did, a lack of awareness and understanding is immediately obvious.

 

4.10    Question 10 was again inconclusive with the participants split over their beliefs that they had received equal opportunities training.  Most comments from the 45% that agreed they had received training, had done so many years ago and not necessarily in DFRS.  One participant, who had served in two other Brigades, had stated that he had received training his two former Brigades, but had not received any training to date in DFRS.  Most participants acknowledged that they had received limited input during basic training and at induction courses but had received little or no training thereafter.  41% stated they had not received training, whilst 14% were unsure.

 

4.11    Due to word limitations and time restrictions, the author provided a straightforward analysis of the data, rather than statistical, in depth analysis, whereby the level of understanding and knowledge demonstrated by participants were segregated into three levels:  comprehensive, satisfactory and unsatisfactory.  Table 1 below provides the percentage value pertaining to the level of understanding as assessed by the author in his analysis.

 

      Table 1

 

Level of Understanding:

High

(Comprehensive)

Medium

(Satisfactory)

Low

(Unsatisfactory)

 

Participants:

45%

41%

14%

 

 

4.12    It was also felt necessary to analyse the level of understanding to the particular level of the participant in the organisation, thus enabling areas of strengths and weaknesses to be identified.  Table 2  illustrates these results.

 

      Table 2   

     

Level

Operational – Watch Based

Operational – Office Based

Station/Area Officer

Divisional Officer or above

Non-Uniformed

Non-Uniformed Manager

Comprehensive

11%

11%

27%

20%

11%

20%

Satisfactory

 

38%

13%

6%

6%

31%

6%

Unsatisfac-tory

16%

16%

0%

0%

0%

16%

 

      Unsatisfactory knowledge conveyed by non-classified participants:  50%

 

      The author acknowledges that although not confirmed, he suspects that the majority of questionnaires purporting a poor level of knowledge came from operational, watch-based participants.  This assumption is based on the author’s own anecdotal experience of the kind of comments experienced at this level in the organisation.

 

4.13    Structured Interviews

 

The author refers to Appendix E of this project, which lists the 5 questions that were asked of interview participants.  Participants from all levels of the organisation were interviewed and the author was satisfied that comprehensive knowledge was demonstrated by all those who took part.  The author did not specifically target participants, according the level of knowledge he thought they would demonstrate.  Mostly, due to workloads, it was more down to availability of participants, rather than being selective, the latter being against the ethos of this project.

 

4.14     The qualitative nature of the answers given in this part of the research allows the author to introduce to support to the arguments he intends to introduce under the Discussion section, 5.

 

4.15    Participants’ answers were sometimes long winded and were mis-directed on occasion due to the sensitivity of the questions for some personnel.  Often the author had to close the conversation and bring the interview back to the original question.  Overall the author was satisfied that he received honest and substantial data that would not necessarily have been obtained from the questionnaires.

 

5.   Discussion

 

5.1 When one talks of equal opportunities in the fire service a mixed reaction is usually received.  It is as if every body knows it exists and may even have an understanding of what the policies entail but nobody appears to want to grasp hold of it.  To the vast majority of the workforce equal opportunities immediately conjures thoughts of female and ethnic minority employment and a change in behavioural patterns that would apparently exist with groups of men.  It does not immediately spring to mind thoughts of bullying, banter, horseplay, name-calling and alienation, yet the author maintains that the latter can be equally as harmful as Racial or Sexual Discrimination.  In essence an air of negativity has been witnessed, not just in DFRS but with the fire service nationally.  It is an institution that has existed in its current format since 1947 and despite advances in technology and changes in the way in which firefighters deal with incidents, the culture remained relatively unchanged.  The fire service enjoyed (and arguably still enjoys) over thirty years of white, male, heterosexual dominance and despite the introduction of legislation  to encourage female and ethnic minority applicants to join the fire service, few did.  What was it about this “culture” that prevented the change from happening?

 

5.2 The Collins English Dictionary defines culture as “…the total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge which constitute the shared basis of social action” (8).  It is the “…total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group” (9).  When we think of culture it is not easy to define or lay down specifics but what is immediately apparent is that it is something very big.  It can be likened to an iceberg in that a small part of the culture is observable and identifiable but culture goes far deeper than that, part of the beliefs and ethos of the organisation.  One thing that is common throughout all theories relating to corporate culture is that it is very difficult to change, particularly if that culture is strong and has been predominant for years.  This is what faced the fire service when the Home Office launched its Thematic Review on Fairness and Equality in 1999, setting targets for fire services to meet by 2010, based on societal representative assessments of their respective geological areas (10).  Of course laws had been introduced to allow female and ethnic minority groups the opportunity to join the fire service (see appendix A) but it was obvious from the statistics as stated in the introduction, that the opportunities were simply not good or fair enough.

 

5.3 When the Home Office launched its Thematic Review in 1999, it was titled “Founding a Cultural Equality”, which, conscientiously or not, identifies the problems that have existed with culture in the fire service.  When the author refers to culture and the fire service one immediately relates to that culture which is built and maintained at service delivery i.e. on fire stations but culture in this sense is apparent throughout the organisation.  It is the service delivery, however, that has presented more controversy and attention than in senior and middle management, perhaps because there is a lack of operational supervisory and senior female management in the organisation. 

 

5.4 Baker maintains that there are possibly two types of organisational culture:  positive and negative.  On the positive side culture can help to provide identity and continuity whilst also indicating rewards for excellence.  On the negative side, culture may block desired changes and explain why changes in strategy may not work. (11)  This can be reflected on what can be experienced in the fire service.  The positive aspect of the culture purports the notion that firefighters bond as a team, both on station and during leisure time.  This allows them to build up the trust and dependence that may need from each other in more precarious times when tackling a difficult and protracted incident.  The negative side of this culture is evident from its approach to equal opportunities issues as it provides an instrumental block to control and reinforce bad practice.  The author supports this argument with the quantitative data from appendix F, which states that 19% of the workforce felt they had bee treated unfairly in the last two years, significantly the time period since the Home Office Thematic Review on Fairness and Equality was released.  Qualitative data supports these findings with one answer to the question of the participants’ understanding of direct discrimination and victimisation was that they were both “against white men” and that positive discrimination was very much present.

 

5.5 The statistics in 2.3 of this project already suggest that discrimination exists in the fire service.  The evidence is supported by authors on discrimination, such as Skellington (12), Palmer (13), Morris and Nott (14) and Baigent (15), the latter stating that women’s enrolment rate in 1996 was running at less that 5% of the total enrolments and their resignation rates are more than double those of men (not including retirement).  Yet why should women have to feel oppressed in a male dominated culture?  Moir and Jessel (1989) suggest that male dominated organisations do not improve female employee performance and that in order to change this culture there needs to be more diversity at senior level:

 

 

Women…may not be properly represented at important levels of big corporations, but they are now doing remarkably well in the firms they have set up themselves.  Here, they don’t have to play the male game according to male rules.  They are free to make up their own rules, make relationships rather than play games, run their businesses more on a basis of trust than of fear, co-operation rather than rivalry…” (21)

 

 

 

5.6 The FBU faces a difficult situation.  Union leaders are in doubt what the FBU’s position is on equal opportunities, indeed, it has been argued that the FBU has really spearheaded equal opportunities policies and ethics in the modern fire service. (16) However, it has been observed by one Executive Council Member that “some firefighters are sexist and racist” (17), whilst Walby identifies similar processes occurring within many trade unions with sexism and racism common amongst rank and file members whilst their leaders, more egalitarian in their outlook, support women’s equality. (18)  The author’s qualitative research concluded that few participants could name FBU equal opportunities publications, let alone state the notion of the content of each document, yet these documents are available and circulated to every work place in the organisation.  This evidence is further supported by the quantitative data, with 45% of participants not being aware of union support groups and 14% unsure (appendix F).

 

5.7 It has been recognised that there is much to be gained by managing diversity correctly and this has now been recognised by the fire service with the introduction of Home Office legislation on the topic.  Related to the issue of equal opportunities, managing diversity, purports the business and quality argument in purporting equal opportunities policies.  This notion is supported by Torrington and Hall, who state:

 

 

Management of diversity approaches…stress the economic and the business case for equal treatment, offering benefits and advantages for the employer if they invest in ensuring that everyone in the organisation is valued and given the opportunity to develop their potential and make a maximum contribution.” (19)

 

Surely then, it would be more beneficial under the Best Value initiatives, that have been driven into local authority organisations, for the fire service to select the most suitable candidates for the posts available in the interests of quality and good business sense.  It is not only proven to be best practice but also sound business sense to recruit from as diverse a background as possible.  Take, for example, one claim against London Fire Brigade for assault and battery and false imprisonment.  Damages of £25,000 were agreed in the High Court for  a very serious case of harassment and victimisation.(24) Indeed, once the legal and administrative costs are added on, the figure can assume alarming proportions and since the cap on equal opportunities harassment damages has been removed, the ignorance of these policies could prove to be very costly.

 

5.8       Traditionally the fire service has been seen to be the reflection of manual work, with the vast majority of employees having come from working class backgrounds, usually the armed forces or skilled tradespersons.  Generally firefighters lacked formal qualifications, but this was not due to a lack of intellect but more reflective of their working class backgrounds. (20)  Women, however, tend to have more qualifications than their firefighting male counterparts, with 20.6% having degrees and only 2.9% lacking formal qualifications.  Assuming that fire calls account for approximately 10% of a firefighter’s total time spent on a fire station, it is suggested by the author that the mix of both occupational and academic skills enhances the capacity of fire services to cope with the myriad of emergencies they deal with.  The other 90% of the time is covered by a complexity of tasks that is often misinterpreted and generally unknown by the public.  Such task would include:  community fire safety, training, team building exercises, community enhancement and profile activities, goodwill activities, etc.  The role of the firefighter in the modern fire service is changing, dramatically so over the last ten years.  As its risk changes, so must its personnel and the type of candidate it needs to recruit.  It can only achieve this by recruiting from as diverse a background as possible.

 

5.9       Part of the problem with expanding equal opportunities policies, not only specific to DFRS but nationally, is the fact that uniformed managers are recruited all from the ranks, with no fast track for graduate entry, which limits their abilities.  A lack of suitable applicants often leads to officers being promoted who are inefficient and this is recognised by principal officers:

 

 

The fire and rescue service is concerned that it is unable to select sufficient members of suitable officers of the right management competencies to sustain a viable emergency service (22)

 

     

Reinforcing this notion is the fact that many experienced and educated firefighters choose not to go for promotion, instead preferring to take up secondary employment, often earning salaries in excess of their officers.  This is often pitted against officers, rather than harnessed by sound management techniques, thus leading to a dissipation of control in the workplace.  Some junior officers (leading firefighter and sub officer ranks – see appendix G) and evidently some station officers, are able to establish leadership of these groups but this is achieved within cultural confines, leaving less capable officers to retreat to the office, leaving an environment where harassment may occur unchecked.  Appraisal systems for officers do not exist within DFRS, moreover for management to monitor non-emergency activity, reinforcing the argument that promotion from the ranks has significant drawbacks for officers who have been subjected to such cultural strains in early service.  Senior management appear unable or unwilling to penetrate and change such negative cultural control, despite this being well recognised. (23)

 

5.10     No culture is ever going to overcome the law, however, and it is to the legislation surrounding equal opportunities policies that the author now turns.  Terminology extracted from the parliamentary acts on sexual and racial discrimination  (see appendix A) are now assumed to be common knowledge in the workplace but how effective is firefighters’ understanding of them?  Question 3 of Appendix C of this project questioned participants’ knowledge of discrimination, harassment and victimisation.  These terms are not only referred to in law but they are also reiterated in DFRS Fairness at Work - Bullying and Harassment Policy, a copy of which is present at all Service workplaces.  Racial and sexual harassment were generally well understood by the participants who provided comprehensive definitions.  Direct discrimination was also generally well understood but indirect discrimination was not well known and misunderstood by over 90% of participants.  Victimisation was interpreted as “name calling”, which is not the correct answer, again with 90% not knowing the true definition of treating of a person less favourably than another because he or she had in good faith, made allegations of discrimination against a third party.  Positive discrimination was confused with the notion of positive action, with participants stating the definition of the latter and whilst the author recognises that he originally intended to ask participants for their understanding of positive action, he felt that personnel should still have an understanding of what positive discrimination entailed and should be able to identify the difference.

 

5.11    The author identifies that equality is no longer a moral or economic issue alone, but one that politicians increasingly support.  Bradley supports this notion:

 

 

Dominant social groups of whatever kind do not yield their privilege, prestige and power voluntarily.  They will manipulate their advantage to ensure that whatever changes occur remain compatible with their own continued supremacy.  It is here that gender ideologies come in so handy for elite groups.  If change comes about, then, it will not be automatic but will result from the political actions of the groups involved; the most salient being the state (25)

 

 

The laws on discriminations  have been criticised for being negative and passive, but it should be explained that it was the law that first provided an avenue for female and ethnic minorities to enter the fire service. (26)  The legislation itself provides a means for minority groups to gain some form of control in environments, with which they often find themselves alienated and treated with hostility.  It is a popular notion that harassment only occurs if intentional but this is wrong.  Minority groups are often harassed under the guise of humour and fun where the underlying effects are often unknown or disregarded.

 

5.12     It is therefore clear then that senior management have a responsibility to uphold and expand equal opportunities policies within the Service.  The author’s research highlighted the fact that although policies existed within the Service and despite the fact that most personnel had a general understanding of what those policies entailed (appendix F), qualitative data suggested that the amount of information and the way in which it has been conveyed to personnel was unsatisfactory.  Qualitative data from the structured interviews (appendix H) suggested that one general, all encompassing, policy would be required, rather than a series of smaller legislative documents supporting Service policy on equal opportunities.  In addition, participants believed that senior management had not and were not doing enough to inform personnel about equal opportunities and that there needed to be more support and direction in this respect.  In effect DFRS management need to create the environment whereby minorities do not need the support of union groups and societies and personnel have the support of the organisation to avoid harassment and unfair practices.

 

5.13     The obvious resolution to the majority of the issues raised in this project appear to come down to training but the author will argue with supporting evidence that training is not the only answer to the issues that face senior management in DFRS.  There is a belief amongst firefighters that it is the employer and not the employee that is responsible for their actions when they discriminate but the legislation on this is very clear:

 

 

The harasser is always liable and in many cases the employer is liable as well unless s/he took reasonable steps to prevent the employee from discriminating (26)

 

 

 

The case of Tanya Clayton (appendix I) provided evidence of firefighters experiencing public humiliation via the courts but this negative example should be put to positive use as an additional lever to change firefighters’ attitudes.  What is evident is that professional training is needed by the fire service in order to educate them and make them responsible for their actions and what their actions are.  Given firefighters’ lack of equality training it was almost no surprise that the Clayton case came to light, yet to the firefighters, how did they know what was wrong? 

 

5.14    Evidence to support the notion that a lack of equal opportunities training exists in DFRS is provided by the quantitative data of question 10 of appendix F and qualitative data from structured interviews.  Conflicting evidence was provided by the quantitative data with 41% of participants stating they had not received any formal equal opportunities training, with 14% unsure.  The 45% who stated they had received training, stated that they had done so either during recruitment or external training courses, but not internally.  The very fact that there is almost an equal divide in participants’ opinions suggests that two standards of training may exist within the Service.  All participants interviewed stated that there was insufficient training in the Service but in addition that training was not the only answer to the problems that exist.  Training that is given during recruitment is generally perceived to be ineffective as once the firefighter experiences the environment and the culture of fire station, the knowledge gradually dissipates and is eventually eroded. What is required therefore, is effective, ongoing training, to ensure that the knowledge is kept current and alive throughout the organisation.  The European Commission’s code sets out a number of recommendations for employers, including:

 

ü       Drawing up and publicising a policy statement on sexual harassment;

ü       Giving managers responsibility for the policy, both in explaining and carrying it out;

ü       The provision of training;

ü       The development of clear and precise procedures;

ü       The designation of a person to provide advice and assistance to employees subjected to sexual harassment;

ü       The establishment of a complaints procedure;

ü       The setting up of a sensitive and prompt investigation procedure;

ü       Making sexual harassment a disciplinary offence. (27)

 

The author is able to support management in the majority of these areas as most of them are covered in Service policies but there are still shortfalls that are painfully lacking, most notably that of training.  It is ongoing training that needs to be prioritised in DFRS, not only at recruitment level but all levels in the organisation so that the input becomes part of the culture rather than a bolted add-on, which soon fades and eventually falls away.  Indeed, Collins supports this statement when she states that “…equal opportunities training ensures that employee and organisational status is continually enhanced and not held back by discriminatory forces.” (28)  By ignoring equality training management have implicitly supported harassment and this needs to be addressed in the immediate future.

 

5.15               Training in its literal sense is not the only answer and this is supported by 100% of the participants interviewed.  It was generally felt amongst the participants that apart from training there should be a form of consultancy in place but one without barriers and easily approachable in total confidence so that the maximum support can be provided.    Collins suggests that the strategic management goal should be to seek out the innovators in the organisation, those who will challenge traditional cultures and ideologies, thereby providing a platform based on full equality which in turn will motivate staff.  (29) Most of the participants interviewed stated that there was currently no formal equality training programmes in DFRS, yet this conflicts with the qualitative data in appendix F.  All participants maintained that equality training should be carried out by an external, non-uniformed person and not a uniformed manager.  In appendix J Collins identifies those concepts that can be used to assist the equal opportunities trainer in helping to raise equality awareness in the Service, rather than traditional methods of standing at the front of the class, delivering information, that is unlikely to be retained by personnel.  This method is usually discussed at the time and then forgotten a week or two after the training session.  Collins’ proposals go much further than this and can be construed to come under the guise of “training”, yet the author feels the terminology should be more along the lines of “awareness and understanding”.

 

5.16                In order to overcome the difficulties identified with fire service culture (sections 5.1-5.5), the lack of management competency (section 5.9) and the lack of formal training (sections 5.14, 5.15), senior management will need effective support.  The Home Office Thematic Review on equality and fairness in the fire service was a major step towards identifying equal opportunities issues in the fire service, rather than turning a blind eye to the policies as suggested by Home Office leadership in 1997 - see section 2.7 of this project.  Amongst the recommendations of this thematic review was the introduction of an Equal Opportunities Task Group, set up by the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council (CFBAC – a body that advises the Secretary of State on fire service issues), the function of which is to produce models of equality and fairness based on existing best practice, that will be disseminated to Fire Authorities and thus, senior management as guidelines for tackling these issues in their respective brigades. Whilst the findings in this project indicate major shortfalls in equal opportunities awareness, there has, in management’s defence, been a total lack of support from the Home Office until the distribution of the thematic review on fairness and equality.  Other salient recommendations derived from the thematic review on fairness and equality are listed in appendix K.

 

5.17                Support from the Home Office is only hearsay without commitment and support from the Fire Authority, especially in terms of resources.  With the number of thematic reviews and recommendations now being disseminated from the Home Office, there is increasing pressure on Fire Authorities, bodies that levy constituent authorities, to secure the necessary resources to facilitate the objectives.  This, in turn, puts pressure on Chief Fire Officers and their strategic management teams to meet those objectives with their limited resources.  The author would advocate that this is a matter of prioritisation and judging by the outcomes of section 5.7 of this project, the fact that discrimination damages have had their maximum award limit expunged, speculates that the strategic management team will do so in the near future.  The author feels that there is a danger of “ethics overload” within the fire service.  True, it would be foolish to ignore best practice and Home Office recommendations but where will it stop?  The fire service is today playing catch-up for what should have been in place twenty years ago with the introduction of equality legislation.  The fire service is not an endless cash and personnel rich resource that can support every recommendation that is common to best practice.  To do so would increase the size of the non-uniform contingent to uneconomic proportions, which would ultimately jeopardise the risk of fire cover.  What does need to happen, however, is a realistic system of prioritisation for senior management to plan and systematically incorporate the paramount recommendations of the Home Office, according to an agreed risk assessment process, addressing those issues that are most likely to critically impact on the service.

 


6.   Conclusions

 

6.1                  In this project the author has provided a clear insight into the kinds of equality issues that face management in DFRS.  The author has explained the definition of what is meant and understood by culture, especially that strong culture that is applied to the fire service.  Theory was applied to practical and anecdotal experience of the author to develop arguments based on the difficulties in overcoming a strong, negative culture when faced with the issue of equal opportunities.  This was supported with evidence from the author’s own research with 19% of participants stating they had been unfairly treated in the last 2 years, after the introduction of fair working practice policies and the Home Office Thematic Review on equality and fairness.

 

6.2                  Difficulties experienced in unions and support groups were also identified.  Unions were the first to drive home equal opportunities policies as senior officials endorsed the moral and ethical viewpoints that the legislation purports.   Yet the FBU suffers in that the greater number of its membership are those that are not aware of the Union’s standpoint and therefore the implications of equal opportunities.  This was supported by the author’s quantitative and qualitative data, which identified the slight majority not being aware of union publications or their support groups.

 

6.3      The author identified the economic and business argument to support equal opportunities by managing diversity, thereby opening up the scope for a wide range of employees from all backgrounds, completely equal.  An out-dated management structure was identified that could not easily make inroads into the dominant culture that exists.  Whilst senior management are privileged with knowledge and endorse equal opportunities policies, middle and junior management are suffering with the negative culture that dominates on fire stations.  Only by addressing the way in which officers are trained and promoted are we likely to witness a change in styles and leadership and once that change achieves strategic status, equality in the fire service is likely to be achieved.  Positive action open days that DFRS endorse are therefore required at a first step but much more action is needed to overcome the limited development opportunities for women and ethnic minorities in the fire service.

 

6.4      The political argument was developed by the author under 5.11.  The moral and ethical arguments for the expansion of equal opportunities had already been discussed in earlier sections.  Legislation gradually introduced since the 1950 Equal Pay Act meant that employers were obliged under law to employ the right person for the job regardless of sex, race, colour, creed, etc. Management in the fire service had been slow on the uptake of this legislation as it was not before 1982 that the first female firefighter was employed in the UK Fire Service, some six years after the Sex Discrimination Act in 1976.

6.5      Management responsibility for training was identified 5.13 where it was identified that DFRS management have not been effective in providing essential equal opportunities training.  41% of participants acknowledged they had not received any training whilst those that had, did not necessarily receive their training in DFRS and the training was proven to be ineffective because it was not ongoing.  Baigent argues that there may be a lack of equality training because senior management consider they have more important issues to deal with, inadequate funding to design and implement training packages, or management’s own lack of equality training is preventing them from developing the much needed packages. (30) The author concluded that training in its traditional sense was not the only answer but that a clearly defined and understood action plan was required that focussed on a rolling programme of ongoing training, incorporating the discussion groups and quizzes that Collins recognises in appendix J.

 

6.6      Fire service policies and indeed, the amount of legislation under employment law is too confusing for firefighters.  This is supported by the author’s qualitative data in appendix H and Anthony Lester QC when he states that:

 

 

The British legislation (on equal opportunities) has been drafted with grotesque and unnecessary complexity and obscurity – more like income tax legislation than a human rights code.  It is not user friendly.  It suffers from piecemeal pragmatism and excessive detail…and by the continuing inability of some judges to embrace the concepts of equality contained in the legislation. (31)

 

 

From the author’s own anecdotal experience it has been identified that if Service Policies are distributed that are too confusing then they will often be overlooked and not taken seriously because they are presented in a way which is bewildering and incomprehensible in the main.  Any policies that are drafted and distributed to the workforce need to be backed up with straight-forward and realistic training that personnel can relate to – see section 5.14.

 

7.   Recommendations

 

7.1      Management’s responsibilities should identify the need for ongoing equality training.  It cannot be put off any longer.  The author is satisfied that the qualitative and quantitative data obtained during his research concludes that DFRS is deficient in this crucial area and should be acted upon as a priority.  The author recognises the fact that resources are limited and steps have been made to ensure that effective positive action programmes are taking place to meet Home Office targets.  Personnel Management have identified the need for an Equal Opportunities Officer, a non-uniformed position, employed on a part-time basis.  This is a major step forward for the Service and the author champions that persons employ as soon as resources permit, but the warning shots have already been fired with the Tanya Clayton case, amongst others, including an incident with a female retained firefighter in Dorset some ten years ago (qualitative data in appendix F).  The time has come to prioritise before more damage ensues.

 

7.2      Whilst senior management have identified the need for an independent non-uniformed equal opportunities liaison officer, it is essential that whatever programme of awareness training is introduced, that training must be ongoing as part of a rolling programme.  A comprehensive monitoring and review process should also be introduced to ensure that policies and training are effective, that the procedures are working and identifies any problems that need to be remedied.  A one-off quick-fire solution by senior management will not be effective and this is supported by Collins and the author’s research in appendix F.

 

7.3      One overall equal opportunities document needs to be introduced that encompasses the heterogeneous policies that exist under the umbrella of equality and discrimination.  Fragments of legislation are usually circulated, too complicated in their wording and often misfiled so that they are unlikely to be seen by the workforce on a regular basis.  A clearly worded, well presented document, bound together via ring-binder to facilitate further addendums would, in the opinion of the author, be the most suitable method of providing the workforce with a policy they can refer to at a moment’s notice.  The document should only be circulated with support from an independent, non-uniformed equal opportunities officer, a post already recognised by management.

 

7.4      The introduction of a two tier management structure has long been debated in the fire service but it is the opinion of the author that one of two circumstances needs to take place.  Firstly, there ought to be a clear two-tier entry system introduced, whereby managers with suitable qualifications could advance to supervisory level.  This would entail an intensive management training course at the Fire Service College, after which, management trainees would then take their place as managers in the fire service.  Secondly, a fast-track promotion system could be introduced to rapidly promote those candidates demonstrating outstanding managerial qualities and suitable management  and academic qualifications.  Both systems would ensure that, with equal opportunities policies in place, female and ethnic minority managers will advance to senior management within a shorter space of time that is currently the case.  Only when this happens will the fire service begin to enjoy total equality in it entirety, as the traditional homosociality culture is smashed as in other public sector organisations.

 

7.5      The current system for dealing with complaints and bringing about disciplinary cases are antiquated and unsatisfactory for the 21st Century fire service.  The quasi-militaristic ways in which the fire service carries out its disciplinary procedures are, in the opinion of the author, unsuitable for today’s needs.  Most cases take far too long and are not suitably handled as disciplinary officers are inexperienced in dealing with such matters, moreover in smaller shire brigades, such as DFRS, where disciplinary cases are far fewer than larger, metropolitan brigades.  The formality of the disciplinary procedures deters persons from making allegations of harassment to management because they feel their issues be ongoing and therefore diluted.  Meanwhile the problem persists.  The author’s anecdotal experience recalls a recent incident where allegations were made by one female member of staff against two of her line managers.  The case took well over six months to assess and resulted in two persons signing off work with stress.  These issues need to be dealt with immediately and confidentially so that the whole matter is resolved within one or two weeks as a priority.  As Baigent endorses:

 

 

Such procedures can take longer than six months, are time wasting and leave little scope for middle management to ameliorate at a local level (31)

 

 

           The author advocates that non fire service personnel should be responsible for dealing with cases of discipline.  Despite the fact that an informal disciplinary procedure exists, matters of a more serious nature need to be acted upon immediately.  A regional or even national disciplinary consultancy body is required to impartially judge disciplinary cases.  Upon receipt of the necessary information, this group of suitably trained professionals, perhaps including those with judicial and legal experience, depending on the case,  would arrive in the brigade at reasonable notice for all parties concerned and, after considering all the circumstances of the case, make a deliberation.  Such cases should take place in civilian clothing to remove the formal barriers that the current fire service uniform provides in non pageantry situations.

 

 

R. Boniwell                                  21st June 2001

Technical Support Officer

Dorset Fire & Rescue Service

 

 

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References

 

Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate:   Equality and Fairness in the Fire Service – A Thematic Review – “Founding a Cultural Equality” (1999)

 

A guide for strategic managers in fire services and the senior echelons of  Fire Authorities to follow.  This was useful to support the author’s arguments at various points in the project.

 

Fairness in the Fire Service.  Internet Site.  www.fairness.freeserve.co.uk

 

A very comprehensive internet site that addresses the equal opportunities from a female firefighter's point of view.  The author was able to extract useful quotes and additional resources from this web site.

 

The Fire Brigades Union:  “All Different, All Equal” (journal), p.5

 

A useful document from which the author could illustrate the leadership of the FBU’s ethos.

 

4.   Torrington D & Hall L:  “Human Resource Management”,  fourth edition (1998), Prentice Hall, p.351

 

A sound bible for managing Human Resources that the author has found very useful not only for this project but for performance management and other topics this year.  Some good points on the ethics of equal opportunities and also culture.

 

5.   Fairness in the Fire Service.  Internet Site.  www.fairness.freeserve.co.uk

 

6.   Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate:   Equality and Fairness in the Fire Service – A Thematic Review – “Founding a Cultural Equality” (1999), executive summary.

 

7.   McNeil P:  Research Methods (1990), Routledge, p.40

 

A useful text that provided the author with some background on research methods, together with recommendations and suggestions for implementing that research.

 

8.   Baker R: Diploma in Management Lecture Notes – “Corporate Culture”,(2000), Bournemouth & Poole College of Further Education, p.1

 

The class notes on culture provided the author with some useful theoretic background into the kinds of issues that the fire service has to face. These notes, combined with secondary theory from Torrington and Hall allowed the author to develop his discussion on culture effectively and with support.

 

9.   Baker R: Diploma in Management Lecture Notes – “Corporate Culture”,(2000), Bournemouth & Poole College of Further Education, p.1

 

10. Her Majesty’s Fire Service Inspectorate:   Equality and Fairness in the Fire Service – A Thematic Review – “Founding a Cultural Equality” (1999), executive summary

 

11. Baker R: Diploma in Management Lecture Notes – “Corporate Culture”,(2000), Bournemouth & Poole College of Further Education, p.3

 

12. Skellington R:  “Race” In Britain Today (1992), Sage, p.27

 

Skellington provided the author with some interesting case studies and an insight into the issues facing minority groups in modern Britain.

 

13. Palmer C: Discrimination at Work (1992), Legal Action Group, p. 21

 

This resource was quite extensively used by the author to support his claims of discrimination and it was useful to note that there were some specific examples that pertained to the fire service and these were incorporated into the author’s discussion.

 

14. Morris A E & Nott S M:  Working Women and the Law (1991), Routledge, p.78

 

A text that addresses the difficulties women have had and indeed do face in today’s workplace.  Some interesting case studies were provided.

 

15. Baigent D:  Who rings the bell? A gender study looking at the British Fire Service, its firefighters and equal opportunities (1996), Unpublished dissertation for BA (hons), Appendix 2, Home Office Statistics.

 

Baigent’s notes were predominantly focussed on the issues that face women in a metropolitan fire service, rather than a shire service, such as Dorset.  Nevertheless, the research carried out by Baigent made interesting comparisons and was again used by the author to reinforce his arguments throughout the discussion section.

 

16. Baigent D:  Who rings the bell? A gender study looking at the British Fire Service, its firefighters and equal opportunities (1996), Unpublished dissertation for BA (hons), Structures and Workforces, p.1

 

17. Baigent D:  Who rings the bell? A gender study looking at the British Fire Service, its firefighters and equal opportunities (1996), Unpublished dissertation for BA (hons), Structures and Workforces, p.1

 

18. Walby S:  Patriarchy at Work (1986), Polity Press, p.207-218

 

Walby’s text was not extensively used by the author but it did provide some useful information on the issues facing trade unions with regard to internal politics and this was utilised by the author.

 

19. Torrington D & Hall L:  “Human Resource Management”,  fourth edition (1998), Prentice Hall, p.351

 

20. Bilton et al: “Introductory Sociology” (1987), Macmillan

 

This resource provided the author with some interesting background on workers’ education, emphasising the point that intelligence is not purely classed as having formal qualifications. 

 

21. Torrington D & Hall L:  “Human Resource Management”,  fourth edition (1998), Prentice Hall, p.102

 

22. McGuirk A J:  “Climbing Ladders; The selection of Officers in the Fire and Rescue Services” , (1994), Unpublished MSc dissertation.

 

A resource that the author was able to obtain through an internal network within the service and provided him with evidence to support the fact that there may be a lack of suitable candidates for senior management in the fire service.

 

23. London Fire Civil Defence Authority:  Equality Review, (1995), p.13

 

Another resource that the author was able to obtain via an internal network and provided him with some interesting reading on the issues that now face the largest brigade in Britain.  Some excellent criticisms on culture and the difficulties that face senior management.

 

24. Palmer C:  Discrimination at Work (1992), Legal Action Group, p.228/9

 

25. Bradley H:  Men’s Work Women’s Work (1989), Polity, p.233/4

 

Bradley’s text provided the author with sufficient knowledge to argue how dominant political forces are in bringing about change, especially where dominant cultures are present.

 

26. Snell M:  Waged Work – A Reader (1986), Virago, p.26

 

This text provided the author with some background on employment law and some case studies that investigated difficulties women faced when starting their careers in the wake of the Acts in the 1970s.

 

27. Palmer C:  Discrimination at Work (1992), Legal Action Group, p.224

 

28. Collins H:  Equality in the Workplace – An Equal Opportunities Handbook for Trainers (1995), Blackwell, p.1

 

Collins’ text provided the author with some interesting theory and recommendations for equal opportunities training that he was able to extract and incorporate into the discussion and for his recommendations.  Worthwhile for the equal opportunities trainer to consider.

 

29. Collins H:  Equality in the Workplace – An Equal Opportunities Handbook for Trainers (1995), Blackwell, p.4

 

30. Baigent D:  Who rings the bell? A gender study looking at the British Fire Service, its firefighters and equal opportunities (1996), Unpublished dissertation for BA (hons),  Fire Station Politics and Management, p.3

 

31. Baigent D:  Who rings the bell? A gender study looking at the British Fire Service, its firefighters and equal opportunities (1996), Unpublished dissertation for BA (hons),  Fire Station Politics and Management, p.3

 

32. Palmer C:  Discrimination at Work (1992), Legal Action Group, forward

 


Background Research/ Further Reading

 

1.   Jefferson M:  Principles of Employment Law (2000), Cavendish

 

2.   Donnellan C:  Men, Women and Equality (1996), Independence

 

3.   Palmer C, Moon G with Cox S:  Discrimination at Work (1997), Legal Action Group, Bell and Bain

 

4.   www.eoc.org.uk Equal Opportunities Commission Web Site

 

5.   Assorted newspaper articles from “The Times”.

 

6.   Clayton v Hereford and Worcester (1995) Case No. 27856/93

 

7.   Principles of Management for Station Officers (1998), Fire Service’s Examinations Board.

 

 

 


 

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APPENDIX A

UK Employment Law

The Equal Pay Act 1970

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (1986)

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (1986)

The Race Relations Act 1976

The Fair Employment Act 1990 (Northern Ireland only)

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regs. 1992

The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1995

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

The Employment Rights Act 1996

Public Order (Amendment) Act 1996

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

The Human Rights Act 2000 (European Law)

 

 

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APPENDIX B

 

 

 

 

 

 


Questionnaire Guidance

 

As part of a college course I am undertaking this year I am researching for a project that, in this case, will consider quantitative and qualitative research and a comprehensive analysis of the results for independent study purposes.  The title of this project will be broadly titled: “Expanding Equal Opportunities into Dorset Fire & Rescue Service”, which, when completed, may serve to provide some useful information for the Personnel, Training & Development Department.  I recognise the fact that an Equal Opportunities Officer will be appointed by the Service in the near future and to that end I must stress that this survey does not bear any relation to that.  It has to be stressed that this survey is purely for independent study purposes

 

I would therefore like you to assist me in taking part in this questionnaire/survey.  This questionnaire will be sent to certain target groups within the organisation in order to obtain a cross-sectional view of people’s perceptions and understanding of equal opportunities.  I would ask you to follow these simple guidelines when completing the questionnaire.

 

1.       Read the questions carefully and think about them before answering with  “snapshot” decisions.

2.       Please answer all the questions.

3.       Please don’t research the information until you have fully completed the questionnaire – this would, in some part, defeat the object of the exercise.

4.       The information contained within these questionnaires will remain confidential at all times, hence it not required to state your name or department on the question sheet.

5.       Due to the confidentiality of the questionnaire I would like you to answer honestly but without being cynical.

6.       The Questionnaires will only be sent to specific areas within the Service thereby gaining a realistic profile of the impact of Equal Opportunities policies throughout the organisation.

7.       Once all the completed question papers have been received the information will be analysed and recommendations made based upon those results.  A copy of my report will be sent to the Personnel, Training & Development department.

 

Thank you for taking part in this questionnaire/survey.  Please return all completed forms, marked “confidential” to me by 4th May 2001 at the very latest, via the internal mail system – don’t worry, no postage expense involved!

 

Sub.O R. Boniwell

Technical Support

Service Headquarters

Colliton Park

Dorchester DT1 1FB

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Appendix C

No.

Question

 

1

 

 

 

Briefly describe what you understand by the term “Equal Opportunities”.

 

2

 

List as many Organisational Policies as you can that relate to Equal Opportunities?

 

 

3

 

Briefly explain your understanding of the following Equal Opportunities terminology:

 

Direct Discrimination?                             

 

Indirect Discrimination?

 

Positive Discrimination?

 

Racial Harassment?

 

Sexual Harassment?

 

Victimisation?

 

4

 

Many unions have produced a series of documents that relate to Equal Opportunities. Can you…

 

Name some of them?

 

 

Briefly state the purpose of each document?

 

No.

Question

Yes

No

Not Sure

Comment

 

5

 

With regard to question 2 overleaf, do you feel that these policies are reflective of what is expected in your organisation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

Do you feel the Organisation is doing enough to support the national trend to eliminate inequality in the work place?  Support your answer with a comment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

Do you feel that Equal Opportunities policies will affect the way in which you work and or the quality of your work?  Briefly state why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

Do you feel that you have been treated unfairly bearing in mind  your knowledge of Organisation Equal Opportunities policies within the last 2 years?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 

The unions have a number of support groups for personnel that feel underrepresented in the Organisation.  Are you aware of these groups and what they stand for? If “Yes” State as many as you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

Have you had any formal Equal Opportunities training or instruction?

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Comments/Suggestions:

 

                                                                       


 

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APPENDIX D

 

 

 

 

 


Interview Guidance

 

As part of a college course I am undertaking this year I am researching for a project that, in this case, will consider quantitative and qualitative research and a comprehensive analysis of the results for independent study purposes.  The title of this project will be broadly titled: “Expanding Equal Opportunities into Dorset Fire & Rescue Service”, which, when completed, may serve to provide some useful information for the Personnel, Training & Development Department.  I recognise the fact that an Equal Opportunities Officer will be appointed by the Service in the near future and to that end I must stress that this survey does not bear any relation to that.  It has to be stressed that this survey is purely for independent study purposes

 

I would therefore like you to assist me in taking part in this questionnaire/survey.   I intend to target certain target groups within the organisation in order to obtain a cross-sectional view of people’s perceptions and understanding of equal opportunities.  I would ask you to follow these simple guidelines when answering the questions.

 

8.       Think about the questions carefully and think about them before answering with  “snapshot” decisions.

9.       Please try to answer all the questions as best you can, without being too concerned about the answers you give.

10.    Please don’t research the information.  This would, in some part, defeat the object of the exercise.

11.    The information derived from the interviews will remain confidential at all times, hence I shall not relate to your name or department in analysing the results.

12.    Due to the confidentiality of the interview I would like you to answer honestly but without being cynical.

13.    The interviews will only be held with persons from specific areas within the Service thereby gaining a realistic profile of the impact of Equal Opportunities policies throughout the organisation.

14.    Once all the interviews have taken place the information will be analysed and recommendations made based upon those results.  A copy of my report will be sent to the Personnel, Training & Development department.

 

Thank you for taking part in this interview.

 

Sub.O R. Boniwell

Technical Support

Service Headquarters

Colliton Park

Dorchester DT1 1FB


 

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APPENDIX E

1.   There are many different policies and directives that come under the term “Equal Opportunities”.  For example there are “Fair Working Practices”, “Managing Diversity” and “Bullying and Harassment” documents that exist, not to mention FBU publications.  Do you find the number of documents confusing and do you think there are stark differences between them?

 

 

 

 

 

2.   Do you feel that DFRS has a problem with introducing Equal Opportunities into its workforce?  Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.   Do you feel that the Service is doing enough to inform its workforce about Equal Opportunities Policies?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.   Do you feel we have adequate equal opportunities training and if so do you think that training is the answer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.   From my research it is apparent there are some cynics, not necessarily in DFRS but in other organisations, that feel objective towards equal opportunities policies.  What can we do to change this way of thinking?    


APPENDIX F

Appendix F                                    Equal Opportunities – Results Analysis             Project Questionnaire 2001

 

What is your position within the organisation?(Please tick one box)

Operational – Watch Based

 

21%

Operational – Office Based

 

12%

Station/Area Officer

 

12%

Divisional Officer or above

 

14%

Non Uniformed

 

17%

Non Uniformed Manager

 

14%

 

Not Classified:  10%

 

No.

Question

Yes

No

Not Sure

Comment

 

5

 

With regard to question 2 overleaf, do you feel that these policies are reflective of what is expected in your organisation?

 

 

52%

 

19%

 

29%

 

Obvious majority agree that policies are reflective of what is expected.  Some confusion.

 

6

 

Do you feel the Organisation is doing enough to support the national trend to eliminate inequality in the work place?  Support your answer with a comment.

 

 

48%

 

40%

 

12%

 

Predominant status-quo.  Not optimistic

 

7

 

Do you feel that Equal Opportunities policies will affect the way in which you work and or the quality of your work?  Briefly state why.

 

 

60%

 

33%

 

7%

 

Most agree that policies will affect them but why?

 

8

 

Do you feel that you have been treated unfairly bearing in mind  your knowledge of Organisation Equal Opportunities policies within the last 2 years?  

 

 

19%

 

69%

 

12%

 

Almost 20% feel they have been treated unfairly.  This is unacceptable.

 

9

 

The unions have a number of support groups for personnel that feel underrepresented in the Organisation.  Are you aware of these groups and what they stand for? If “Yes” State as many as you can.

 

 

41%

 

45%

 

14%

 

Demonstrates a lack of awareness that support exists, if needed.

 

10

 

Have you had any formal Equal Opportunities training or instruction?

 

 

45%

 

41%

 

14%

 

Status quo is again worrying because there may be two standards in the organisation.

 

 

 

 

No.

Question

 

1

 

 

 

Briefly describe what you understand by the term “Equal Opportunities”.

 

2

 

List as many Organisational Policies as you can that relate to Equal Opportunities?

 

 

3

 

Briefly explain your understanding of the following Equal Opportunities terminology:

 

Direct Discrimination?                             

 

Indirect Discrimination?

 

Positive Discrimination?

 

Racial Harassment?

 

Sexual Harassment?

 

Victimisation?

 

4

 

Many unions have produced a series of documents that relate to Equal Opportunities. Can you…

 

Name some of them?

 

 

Briefly state the purpose of each document?

 

 

The following qualitative answers have been taken from questionnaires that, in the opinion of the author, demonstrated a lack of or misunderstood information.  In must be noted by the reader that numerous answers were collated and some excellent understanding by some participants was demonstrated.  However, it is the purpose of this part of appendix F to illustrate some participants’ areas of need.

 

Question 1:  Briefly describe what you understand by the term “Equal Opportunities”?

 

A)  Unsatisfactory Knowledge

 

F     Giving everyone the same chance to get the job or be happy with it

 

F     Does not exist within Dorset Fire & Rescue Service

 

F     Minority Groups have a greater advantage of the majority

 

F     Fair for all

 

F     No “artificial” complaints on employment, pay, etc

 

Question 3:  Briefly explain your understanding of the following equal opportunities terminology:

 

Direct Discrimination?

 

F      Calling someone names

 

F     Against white men

 

F     Calling a “spade” a spade

 

F     Open

 

F     Because you are a X you cannot….

 

F     At one person

 

F     Self explanatory

 

F     Purposely discriminating

 

F     Picking out an individual

 

F     Blatantly ignoring a person

 

F     By direct action

 

An individual being discriminated against directly

Indirect Discrimination?

 

F     Calling someone names behind their back

 

F     Against white men

 

F     Giving people nicknames to match their personality

 

F     Closed

 

F     Self explanatory

 

F     Being intentionally discriminative or not in a roundabout way

 

F     Setting a job description to preclude an application

 

F     Unintentional discrimination

 

F     Specifying individual characteristics that obviously apply to one type of person

 

F     A minority group not being catered for

 

F     Discriminating by indirect action or word

 

F     By word or deed

 

F     A group, e.g. elderly, not being considered for a job

 

(It should be noted that many participants could not define “indirect discrimination” and therefore chose to leave this section blank or simply answered “not sure” or “don’t know”)

 

Positive Discrimination?

 

F     Everyone calling them names

 

F     Promoting policies to help under-represented groups*

 

F     Oh yes, you better believe it

 

F     If you are a white/male/heterosexual you do not stand a chance of getting into the job

 

F     Active

 

F     You must be an X to qualify (or you Y% must be X)

 

 

F          Trying to even up opportunities if disadvantaged groups by offering additional assistance*

 

F     Identifying individuals or groups that you wish to discriminate against

 

F     Employing more females and ethnic minorities*

 

F     Selecting somebody from a minority group

 

F     Given extra help or adjusting standards as in female/ethnic nights*

 

F     Specification of certain race, gender necessary for job.  Positive action evenings*

 

F     Creating job opportunities within a “restricted” market to address an imbalance in the workforce*

 

F     Identifying sections of the community not, for example, suitable for a specific job (legitimate)

 

F     Conditions imposed that would directly affect an individual

 

F     Where direct action is taken to encourage/target underrepresented individuals/groups to join the organisation*

 

F     A system to encourage underrepresented groups to…*

 

When a group is excluded when you find something offensive    

* denotes possible confusion between what is meant by Positive Action and Positive Discrimination.  It is essential for the workforce to be able to differentiate between the two.  Positive Action is legitimate whereas Positive Discrimination is “discrimination” is its literal sense and is therefore illegal.

 

Two participants directly identified what they thought the correct term should be but the author maintains that with sufficient awareness all participants should have been able to differentiate between the two terms.

 

ü      Know of Positive Action but not this

 

I thought Positive Action was the term

 

Racial Harassment?

 

F     Calling black people names

 

F     Picking on someone because of their race*

 

F     Good

 

F     I’m not racist – If the person involved cannot do the job properly then they should not be told.  And not have the reply of you’re only “picking” on me because I’m black or a female.  I’m not!  It’s because you cannot do it properly

 

F     Colour discrimination

 

F     Any pattern of racially based behaviour that is felt offensive*

 

F     Making jokes/comments about someone's colour, etc*

 

F     Picking on an individual because of race*

 

F     Behaviour or offensive directed at an individual that is offensive or they object to

 

F     Verbal or physical abuse due to race of “victim”*

 

F     Giving someone grief just because they’re different

 

F     Calling people names because of their colour or race*

 

F     Comments and attitudes singling out for ethnics

 

Discriminated by race*

* denotes not necessarily an incorrect answer but the way in which the participants’ worded their answers suggested that they needed to identify a clearer definition of what is meant by racial discrimination or racial harassment.  Usually this definition would start with “The unwanted and unwelcome comments or behaviour on the basis of a person’s… “  Further understanding of Racism would have related to racial prejudice and the use of power to oppress a person or group because of their colour, race, nationality or ethnic origin.

Sexual Harassment?

 

F     Trying it on with someone who isn't interested

 

F     Good

 

F     I’m not sexist - If the person involved cannot do the job properly then they should not be told.  And not have the reply of you’re only “picking” on me because I’m black or a female.  I’m not!  It’s because you cannot do it properly

 

F     Unwanted act of a sexual nature*

 

 

 

F     Any pattern of personally based behaviour that is felt offensive

 

F     Touching up/making comments of a sexual nature

 

F     Picking on an individual because of gender*

 

F     Same as racial harassment

 

F     Picking on a person using sexually motivated issues*

 

F     Calling people names because of their sex

 

Harassing somebody sexual – either word or action*

 

* The author understood the gist of the participants’ answer but again, it could have been worded better.  Their answers could be misconstrued. The author also felt that more information was required, rather than the common  “picking on someone because she is a woman”

 

The answers to this particular question were generally of a high standard, perhaps demonstrating that a greater awareness of sexual discrimination exists amongst those participants who returned their questionnaires.

Victimisation?

 

F     Being picked on

 

F     Picking on someone – making them feel small, etc

F     Picking on an individual for non of the above reasons (referring to the previous questions)

F     If a person is being treated less favourably than others

F     Discriminating against a person for no good reason

F     Bullying, picking on an individual

F     Abuse of any person or group of persons

F     Making someone's life hell - emotionally or physically

F     Intentionally picking on someone

F     An individual singled out for unfair treatment

F     Person being picked on by either group or single member

F     Bullying

F     An individual being picked on by either one other or group

F     Calling someone lots of names

F     Being picked on

F     Of white men

F     Where someone unfairly treats someone else

F     Unfair treatment of person or group, use of bullying behaviour

F     Being made a scapegoat for someone else’s faults

F     Being treated unfairly

F     Unfairly picking on somebody

F     Where a person suffers repeated and unwelcome behaviour against them

F     When an individual suffers due to harassment, discrimination or bullying

F     Where a person is singled out for unfair treatment

F     Where a person or people are singled out for unwelcome/unwanted treatment (i.e. being picked on).  This can often be systematic and results in the person/people becoming a victim (i.e. disadvantaged)

F     Picking ion an individual for no reason

F     All of the above (referring to the previous questions)

F     Persecution of an individual or group by another

This question was poorly answered by approximately 90% of the participants.  Whilst most identified that a person being victimised is treated less favourably than another, they did not understand the circumstances pertaining to that maltreatment, that being “…because he or she has in good faith made allegations about discrimination or has started legal proceedings under any of the relevant (equal opportunities) Acts”.  Most identified victimisation as “name calling” or “picking on somebody” which is both naive and ambiguous.

Taken from the “Principles of Management for Station Officers” (1998), issued by the Fire Services Examinations Board

 

Additional Comments/Suggestions

 

The purpose of this section was to participants to highlight any areas regarding equal opportunities that they wanted to convey to the author for inclusion into this project or to be identified by senior management for areas of

need that must be addressed.  It was also an opportunity for participants to make any recommendations from their point of view and at their level within the organisation.

 

·        I feel that everyone is equal, but equal opps, I feel belittles me because if you are a minority, then you have preferential treatment to the detriment of the majority.

·         

·        Discrimination discussion focus on race agenda, but there are other non-justifiable areas of discrimination within organisations

·         

·        The organisation, in common with may others, does not appear to be promoting equal opportunities effectively

·         

·        All these policies are in place as being PC (politically correct), but in reality it just abusers more devious.  Management hide behind protective policies whilst being even more inconsiderate of employee rights

·         

·        I feel that there is too much emphasis on this, holding special events for the minority groups to join the Brigade, give special treatment to women because of their general lack of strength, etc.  If someone wants to join, they should meet the level on their own, not hold special evenings to help just the minorities

·         

·        We appear to be going out of our way to be politically correct.  Set a standard – advertise and ensure everybody is then treated equally in the job.  The current events are working against minorities joining inadvertently.

·         

·        I feel that the service is far too positive in its discrimination of white males.  How long will it be before the white male is the minority?

·         

·        The Fire Service appears to place most emphasis on equal opportunities for women.  In Dorset there is a relatively low incidence of ethnic minorities (less than 1%) which means that we tend to play down this aspect, I’m not sure if we are right to do this as I suspect there could be racial prejudice in the fire service.  The sexual orientation issue appears to be completely ignored due to the fire service culture and I feel that this can not be right.

·         

·        Generally speaking the majority of information distributed relates to service/uniformed staff – the larger section of DFRS workforce – minority = non-uniform & it shows.

·         

·        Considering what happened 10 years ago at Hamworthy (see section 7.1 of this project) the Brigade have been very slow to take on board the issue.  To be fair it has been the Thematic Review that has focussed the Brigades.

·         

·        The fire service faces considerable challenges in the future, particularly as more women enter the uniformed service.  Issues relating to equipment purchase and use, working hours, annual leave, maternity and independent leave will all need addressing.

·         

·        I am sure in time people will be treated fairly within DFRS but I am not sure if some senior managers appreciate equality should occur with all employees not just with the wholetime informed staff - I believe the fault lies with the Thematic Review which has blinkered their view on equal ops!

·         

·        There is a widely held view that because entry standards have been changed, then the quality of entrants has decreased.  This needs to be addressed

·         

As our personnel become younger and are brought up in a modern thinking society this reflects the workforce’s attitude.  Things will improve dramatically in 10 years’ time.  Equal opps in all its guises will be inherent as opposed to retro!!

·        The recent HO (Home Office) review provides for uncomfortable reading and highlights the needs for brigades to be even more proactive.  Given that public attitudes and perceptions are changing there is a lack of confidence about what is acceptable and not.  Clearly politic acceptable standards would help progress these closely.

 

 

 

Approximately 35% of participants decided to make comments and/or suggestions but those that did identified some realistic issues that face the fire service and are discussed under section 5 in the main Discussion section of the project.

 

To consolidate this qualitative data the author recognises that those participants who demonstrated satisfactory and comprehensive knowledge in their answers, chose then to make negative comment about the current standard of equal opportunities in DFRS and the difficulties that lay ahead.  Approximately 35% of participants decided to make comments and/or suggestions but those that did identified some realistic issues that face the fire service and are discussed under section 5 in the main Discussion section of the project.

 

To consolidate this qualitative data the author recognises that those participants who demonstrated satisfactory and comprehensive knowledge in their answers, chose then to make negative comment about the current standard of equal opportunities in DFRS and the difficulties that lay ahead. 
The author was therefore able to assume that whilst the majority of participants have shown themselves to have an acceptable standard of knowledge about equal opportunities they still perceive these principles in a negative light, perhaps secretly wishing they will disappear or fade away as time moves on.  Perhaps participants are of the opinion that the service should adopt a “do nothing” attitude in the hope that no negative issues will arise, perhaps because targets will not be met.  Either way this line of thought has allowed the author to conclude that the fire service culture, as discussed in sections 5.1 – 5.7 of this project, is very much present in DFRS and until there is a definitive change, there will always be this negativity and hostility towards the equal opportunities directives that will only serve to create an environment where harassment can develop.  Change can only take place by the introduction and/or consideration of one or more of the recommendations or variations thereof, as listed under section 7 of this project.
 

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Appendix G

Watch Level

Firefighter

Transitional Rank

 

 


Leading Firefighter

Supervisory Officer

 

 


     Sub Officer                          

 

 


Station Officer

 

 


Assistant Divisional Officer

 

 


Divisional Officer (grade 1)

 

 


Divisional Officer (grade 2)

 

 


Divisional Officer (grade 3)

 

 


Senior Divisional Officer

 

 


Assistant Chief Fire Officer

 

 


Deputy Chief Fire Officer

 

 


Chief Fire Officer

 

 


(Home Office Inspectorate)


Appendix H

 

Appendix H                                                                                                                              Work-Based Project

Diploma in Management           Sept 2000 – June 2001

 

Structured Interviews – Qualitative Data

 

1.   There are many different policies and directives that come under the term “Equal Opportunities”.  For example there are “Fair Working Practices”, “Managing Diversity” and “Bullying and Harassment” documents that exist, not to mention FBU publications.  Do you find the number of documents confusing and do you think there are stark differences between them?

 

F  They are too confusing

 

We want to have one document that is all encompassing, not many smaller documents

 

They are generally confusing

 

They are all aiming in the same direction

 

They are not confusing

 

There are differences between the policies but these differences are necessary

 

Equal opportunities is an umbrella term for the policies

 

One overall document would be too big

 

Policies are reactive, not proactive

 

One document covering all topics would be better

 

Policies are different but there is some overlap

 

FBU policies are hypocritical

 

Needs to link between FBU policies and the leadership of the fire service

 

2.   Do you feel that DFRS has a problem with introducing Equal Opportunities into its workforce?  Why?

 

There is no problem but it will be difficult

 

It is not going to be easy

 

Yes – there seems to be one standard for new recruits, different from 5 years ago when it was more difficult to get in

 

Some difficulties with the older generation

 

Some very scant knowledge in some areas

 

Yes – there is a lack of discipline throughout DFRS

 

Too many older people not receptive to these ideas

 

Uniformed personnel do not like being told what to do by non-uniformed personnel

 

Different personnel are treated differently and that is why it will be difficult

 

No – it’s not going to be a problem.  The workforce are intelligent enough to understand why it (equal ops policies) has to be done.

 

 

3.   Do you feel that the Service is doing enough to inform its workforce about Equal Opportunities Policies?

 

Policies could be conveyed better than what they are at present

 

Positive Action needs to be better explained

 

Yes – the information is there and new information does get through eventually

 

There is an equal ops forum but I don’t know much about it

 

Not enough

 

Not enough – initial policies were issued throughout but there was and is not enough direct contact and there has been no follow up

 

No – (Service) orders should be in plain English, not jargon

 

Instruction needs to accompany policy and assist delivery

 

(The Service is) trying through the Fairness At Work Forum and informal arrangements but informal arrangements don’t usually work

 

A Specialist Consultant is what’s needed

 

SIS (Service Information System) will incorporate Equal Ops policies but it will take 5-10 years to complete due to lack of resources

 

They (DFRS) are giving as much as they can with finite resources

 

4.   Do you feel we have adequate equal opportunities training and if so do you think that training is the answer?

 

No specific training is given and it is not the only answer.  Training has been given at managers’ training days

 

Some training has been incorporated into managers’ training days and courses

 

Needs to be integrated workshops where managers can take that experience back to their JOs (Junior Officers).  Hampshire have been complaining about the policies being rammed down people’s throats

 

No training is given at all and it is not the answer.

 

It needs one comprehensive piece of information delivered by someone experienced

 

Only personal experience on watch

 

Not adequate, especially for JOs.  Training would play a huge part and would enable weaknesses to be exposed

 

Note enough training – awareness training is required

 

Some personnel are not aware they are being offensive

 

No – it’s not the answer

 

Not enough training.  It’s a major step but not the only answer.  There needs to be both training and understanding.  This could be made easily available

 

5.   From my research it is apparent there are some cynics, not necessarily in DFRS but in other organisations, that feel objective towards equal opportunities policies.  What can we do to change this way of thinking?    

 

Make the policies easier to understand and explain what the benefits are

 

Explain the reasons why we are doing it, rather than training.  Just do it

 

Must employ the best person for the job in all circumstances

 

Removal of names from personal information when screening.  Use a numbering system rather than gaining an understanding of that person from their personnel information.

 

An Equal Opportunities Officer will be appointed

 

Poor communication exists from the Fairness at Work Forums

 

Needs to be better communication in the Service

 

Educating the workforce

 

Cynics amongst the older generation.  Younger generation tend to accept, provided that equality means equality

 

Must be seen to be fair and that fairness does mean two standards.

 

Make the whole question transparent and allow people to see things clearly, for example, positive action evenings

 

Is objectivity all about a lack of education?

 

Select appropriate headings and educate the workforce, giving specific examples for each

 

Introduce policies

 

Teams need to be formulated

 

We need to look at awareness issues for improvement

 

We need education and awareness for the workforce


Appendix I

Appendix I                                                                                                                                Work-Based Project

Diploma in Management                 Sept 2000 – June 2001

 

 

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Industrial Tribunal Case Number:  27856/93 Folio Number 06S/021/077

 

Applicant Tanya Clayton

 

Respondents Hereford and Worcester Fire Brigade, Sub Officer Perkins, Sub Officer East

 

The unanimous decision of the Tribunal is that the applicant’s claims against all respondents succeed (Industrial Tribunal Judgement 27856/93, 1995, p.1)

 

The Tanya Clayton case provides an insight into harassment and discrimination that will probably result in exemplary compensation.  The judgement is made over 112 pages and will not be included here for this reason.

 

Throughout the report is a damning indictment of how:

 

A male working environment is able to continually harass women;

 

The fire service has failed to adopt equality training for firefighters or officers;

 

The lack of control senior officers have over their stations;

 

The lack of support for women from senior officers.

The catalogue of events shows how almost from her first day at work the fire service set out to reject Firefighter Clayton (nee Jones), even to the extent of calling her fireman in written reports. Significant in the findings are the way in which men were able to change a 24 year old women who had served with the army in Northern Ireland for five years and "was not, prior to this, a type of person to see discrimination lurking around every corner" (Doctor Gillian Mezey M.B.B.S. M.R.C.Pysch Consultant in, Industrial Tribunal Judgement 27856/93, 1995, p.31) into a women who is physiologically damaged, possibly beyond repair. "Certain attitudinal changes she has experienced may be irreversible, in particular pervasive feelings of injustice, loss of trust, suspiciousness and persistent vulnerability" (Doctor Gillian Mezey M.B.B.S. M.R.C.Pysch Consultant in, Industrial Tribunal Judgement 27856/93, 1995, p.29).

However, in adopting this approach no attempt is made to hide the actions of male firefighters, for they are there within the 'findings' to be seen. 

17 THE TRIBUNAL'S IMPRESSION OF THE WITNESSES

Station Officer Shutt was an impressive witness, objective, sensitive, meticulous, and thoughtful. He thought very carefully about the questions put to him. He always ensured that he was not mis-quoted on his earlier evidence when being questioned by counsel. He had everything to lose and nothing to gain by his testimony. The Tribunal have placed great reliance upon his testimony, and accept it in its entirety.

(Taken from Clayton v Hereford and Worcester (1995) Case No 27856/93)


 

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APPENDIX J

 

Training Programmes and Methods

 

Collins maintains that equal opportunities training should be incorporated a variety of methods.  There is no benefit in merely offering one particular exercise.  More, a combination of the following should be considered to help stimulate personnel and create an environment of “I want to learn about equal opportunities”

 

Role Play, to highlight basic issues associated with equal opportunities.  For example, role play exercises on job interviews or harassment in the workplace

Small discussion groups on equal opportunities terminology such as prejudice, discrimination, victimisation, with feedback to the whole group, using flipcharts to stimulate the interchange of ideas.

Quizzes to generate discussion on specific equal opportunities issues, and to highlight the need for improvements in the provision of equality.

Videos and other visual aids

Case studies

Question and answer panel sessions using issue experts.  For example, someone from Opportunity 2000, a disability rights expert, a successful woman returner, etc.

Seminar and lecture style training delivery using overhead projectors is an appropriate learning method covering many issues such as equal opportunities legislation and policy formation.

Manuals (ring bound for ease of use) are an ideal training resource for trainers running a series of equality courses with the same group, since they act as a continuing source of reference during training, between courses and afterwards.

Checklists of do’s and don’ts.

Brainstorming sessions in small groups to stimulate as wide an appreciation of what equality means in practice as possible.

 

(Taken from Helen Collins, Equality in the Workplace – An Equal Opportunities Handbook for Trainers (1995), Blackwell, p.110/111)


 

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APPENDIX K

Salient recommendations from the Home Office Thematic Review on Equality and Fairness in the Fire Service – “Founding a Cultural Equality”

 

1. the entire leadership of the fire service takes positive steps to display commitment to equality and fairness;

 

2. the findings within this report should be used to support the application of HM Inspectorates published‚ Expectation during brigade inspections of all kinds;

 

3. a further full thematic review should be planned, to report during the fourth year (2003) following publication of this report;

 

4. the benefit of providing an external point of reference to fire authorities through the appointment of individuals to them who are not members of the elected constituent authorities be actively pursued through the CFBAC;

 

5. the Equal Opportunities Task Group be strengthened and that recognised minority support groups be granted membership of, or access to, the Task Group;

 

6. a thematic review enquire into the leadership of the fire service and other issues identified in chapter 2;

 

7. the Equal Opportunities Task Group produce a note for guidance, based on existing best practice, to include model equality and fairness policies. Brigades should set up arrangements to monitor the implementation of the policies;

 

8. each fire authority ensures appropriate resources are deployed to match their expectations in respect of equality and fairness;

 

9. in all brigades there should be an Equality and Fairness Specialist Advisor post (or posts in larger brigades). In the smaller brigades, this role might form part of the duties of the appointee, rather than a full time

commitment;

 

10. brigades take steps immediately to encourage an open, inclusive team culture at all levels;

 

11. each brigade should take positive steps to introduce a culture that values the contribution that can be made to it by women, that facilities required by women firefighters are introduced as a matter of the highest priority and that these aspects are monitored and reported upon by HM Inspectors;

 

12. the Equal Opportunities Task Group consider a common protocol for

working practices and facilities for women and that this is made available to the service;

 

13. steps are taken to enable members of the fire service from black and ethnic minority communities to encourage others from those communities to pursue a career in the fire service;

 

14. brigades take steps to review and strengthen the protection of members of the service who come from the gay and lesbian community, through the inclusion of sexuality within equality and fairness policies;

 

15. the extent to which common recruitment systems can be developed should be examined through the CFBAC;

 

16. centrally supported and managed retained recruitment procedures be put in place in all brigades;

 

17. the Equal Opportunities Task Group review the initiatives to achieve targets conducted by various brigades and circulate guidance to brigades;

 

18. the Equal Opportunities Task Group should consider how planning and provision of training can be supported, as a further priority, and report to the Joint Strategic Committee on Personnel of the CFBAC on the implications;

 

19. brigades give early attention to improving the understanding of the importance of language;

 

20. the Equal Opportunities Task Group examine the options for more flexible working practices;

 

21. brigades introduce arrangements to provide high quality mentoring schemes for all who need them;

 

22. all brigades have a clear, high profile policy dealing with harassment and bullying of all kinds, together with effective procedures for dealing with cases;

 

23. all brigades review their arrangements to ensure that staff of all kinds can gain high quality personal help and support in any circumstance when they need it.