Diversity, Inclusion, Cohesion and Equality (DICE)
Avon Fire and Rescue Service’s (AF&RS) mission is to provide the highest standard and best value service to the community. Key to providing this is having the best people you can employed in your organisation, and clearly understanding what the job you’re doing is. Ensuring Diversity, Inclusion, Cohesion and Equality (DICE) is at the heart of our decision-making helps us to achieve both of these.
What is DICE?
We know that DICE is a longer acronym than many organisations use to describe this area of work, but we think it’s important to specifically reference all four terms. What we mean by DICE is:
Diversity: Acknowledging the fact everyone is different, and has different experiences, skills and needs.
Inclusion: Valuing the strengths diversity brings, and removing barriers to participation
Cohesion: Strong and positive relationships between people from different background, with a common vision and sense of belonging for all
Equality: Giving everyone equal access to an opportunity.
DICE isn’t about treating everyone the same. Having a diverse workforce and population we serve means some people need more support than others to have equal access to an opportunity. For example, we fit specific smoke alarms for those who are deaf or have a visual impairment. Providing these people with standard smoke alarms (treating them the same) would put them at risk, so by changing how we provide a service we are giving them equal access to the opportunity – the opportunity of staying safe in their home.
What we’ve achieved
Home Fire Safety Visits: We work closely with Stand Against Racism & Inequality (SARI), local authorities, and network groups such as the South Gloucestershire Race Equality Forum, Black Southwest Network, and Babbasa, to identify and engage with groups such as the Gypsy Roma Travellers, BAME communities and refugees to ensure they have equal access to all our services including home fire safety visits and support for vulnerable adults.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): We regularly share good practice in EDI through the Asian Fire Service Association (AFSA), which is a national network of EDI practitioners from other fire & rescue services, public and private organisations. We have revised our mandatory equalities e-learning module and used external experts to help us shape our Diversity, Inclusion, Cohesion & Equality (DICE) training packages. Working with our staff to ensure we are addressing issues they are concerned about and need knowledge in.
Partnership events: To increase our Service’s visibility and community engagement, we regularly attend partnership meetings which includes the Race Equality Human Resources Leadership Group, Race Equality Strategic Leaders’ Group, South Gloucestershire Race Equality Network, and the Bristol Equality Network. These networks allow us to gather and share best practice, collaborate on and contribute to EDI focused events and programmes.
Culture survey: AF&RS commissioned an external consultancy to undertake a survey to review our Service culture. We subsequently launched a culture change programme along with a new set of values, behaviour framework, and a culture change strategy and action plan – ‘Making Avon a better place to work’. A second survey in 2021 demonstrated progress while continuing to ensure we remained focused on areas for improvement.
Workforce diversity: AF&RS continues to work on increasing the diversity of our workforce by engaging with under-represented groups and establishing links with diverse community-based organisations. We have removed the prerequisite of a driving licence before applying to become a firefighter and have embedded our Service values into our recruitment process. We regularly attend diversity focused recruitment events with partners including Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and the Department for Work and Pensions.
Community database – It is vital that AF&RS create strong links with the communities we serve. Our staff are working to build trust and break down barriers, continuously developing knowledge and partnership networks. We have created a database of community groups, key partners, and stakeholders, which is accessible to all staff across the Service, to support meaningful engagement which in turn will support one of our strategic aims, to Make our Communities Safer.