“We will take positive action to help encourage recruitment from underrepresented groups. We want to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for our employees, the communities we serve and our partners as we understand these are mutually beneficial relationships.”
Our commitment to recruitment
Our People Strategy commits us to developing and implementing a continuous approach to positive action for the Service, starting with Firefighter recruitment. In our case, women are significantly under-represented among our firefighters as are people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and LGBT+ groups, and our campaigns for on-call recruitment and wholetime recruitment take this into account.
When any recruitment process opens then all candidates, including those who have been involved in positive action events and activity, must apply for roles at the same time and be considered with all other applicants.
Our recruitment will always be open to everyone – and all who apply will have to go through the same selection processes and reach the same standards.
Focusing on firefighter recruitment is only the start of a longer journey. We will also look at representation within different roles within the service, such as engineering, finance and IT.
As we look to the future, all this will form part of our positive action strategy which we will develop with the vital input of all our diverse communities.
What is Positive Action?
If an organisation can show it is under-represented within particular groups, under the Equality Act 2010 it can carry out what is known as ‘positive action’ to encourage applications from people in those groups. Examples of its use include:
- Targeted advertising of jobs. This can be using specific, but not exclusive, media to advertise jobs
- Using positive action statements in recruitment adverts, for example stating that the employer welcomes applications from a particular group
- Participation in career fairs
- Holding open days
Positive action is very different from positive discrimination, which gives preferential treatment to people from particular groups.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service does not advocate or participate in positive discrimination, which is unlawful in the UK.
Positive action is about removing disadvantage, not providing an advantage. For example, unlawful positive discrimination would be where an employer recruits a person because they have a relevant protected characteristic rather than because they are the best candidate.