Diversity and Equality Experts could be looking at a challenging six months ahead

Government measures to tackle the deficit look like they will have a direct impact on the work of equality and diversity experts in the immediate future.  

News that deficit cuts will focus on reducing the amount of consultancy the government procures will not go down well with freelance diversity specialists. As much as 1.1 billion of savings have been earmarked from what the government call “discretionary” spend.

In previous years independent Diversity Consultants had enjoyed an infinite harvest of public sector work, many featuring impressive lists of government clients on their websites. Such measures could lead to a dramatic change in fortune for some practises leading them to face serious financial difficulty. Many may be forced to close down.
Diversity contracts had already started drying up to such an extent that some freelance consultants have been competing with diversity practitioners for fixed term and permanent employment in the public and private sector. With the news that there is impending Civil Service recruitment freeze competition for fewer roles is likely to become intense. Many Diversity Practitioners may be faced with the dilemma of making a career change in order to survive.
Also of concern are the Coalition Government plans to publish salary details of senior staff who work in the public sector. This is very  likely to cause new problems for employed Diversity Practitioners. Such transparency could spark a witch hunt on Senior Diversity Managers whose roles and position may not be valued or understood by the public at large.
All of this adds up to difficult times ahead for an army of equality and diversity experts who have just about survived the roller coaster ride of the credit crunch. The emergency budget will be published on June 22nd and concerns amongst practitioners have never been higher.
Writing for the Guardian this week Shahnaz Ali Associate Director of Equality of NHS North West has expressed concerned that the axe will fall hard on equality and diversity work. She is concerned the new government may not truly understand that investing in this type of work may indeed save them money. “Without leadership and performance monitoring it just won’t get done” she writes, probably without realising it she has mirrored the anxiety and beliefs of Equality and Diversity Practitioners up and down the country.


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