Tackling inequalities is the focus of Oxford City Council’s new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, published today. And the message of the Oxford City Council’s new equalities strategy is that equality is everybody’s business.
The strategy comes as the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the extent of inequalities in Oxford and the country and how inequalities affect people’s lives.
A 2018 report by the Centre for Cities - an independent urban policy research body - ranked Oxford as the second least equal city in the UK.
Oxford is the third most ethnically diverse in the South East, with 26% of residents born outside the UK. Ten of the neighbourhoods in the city are categorised as extremely deprived – in the lowest 20% for the whole country. After housing costs, one in four children lives in poverty.
The new strategy outlines how the council will work with communities, how it will improve service delivery, demonstrate local leadership and become a more inclusive employer.
The new approach follows extensive consultation with community groups, councillors and staff. It follows four key themes that apply through all services to help improve how the council delivers:
- Understanding and Working with our Communities
- Leadership and Organisational Commitment
- Responsive Services and Customer Care
- Diverse and Engaged Workforce
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities at Oxford City Council, said: “The pandemic continues to highlight inequalities in communities across our very diverse city.
“A huge part of the work of the council is about tackling inequalities - from providing affordable homes to investing in our community and leisure centres, working with businesses and providing youth opportunities - to mention just a few.
“This isn’t just another document that will be filed away. This is a document reflecting the voices, experiences and lived realities of people and communities in our city - working with the council to make the change.
“It’s about what we’ve heard from communities, what’s affecting people’s lives, and what we must do to make this a more equal city. Every institution in our city and country needs to take inequality seriously and play their role to improve and change lives.
“To tackle inequalities, we must understand poverty is connected with class, race, gender, disability, sexuality and religion. The council has outlined our priorities and actions to improve our services, and we’ve set up a new oversight process to make sure we stay on track and to ensure we are accountable.
“We need everyone in the city to work with us on this too - businesses, charities, communities, universities and public services. Urgently tackling inequalities, building communities of hope where everyone can flourish and prosper, is everybody’s business.”
Visit the council website to read the draft EDI strategy.