Context & challenges
Merseyside Police Service is one of the largest in the country, employing over 7,000 police officers and police staff. They approached Real World Group when they were planning an initiative to increase a culture of diversity and inclusion across the force, recognising that policies and procedures are not enough – leadership and culture are what truly drives a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Merseyside Police Service had had some negative publicity in the weeks and months leading up to the launch of the initiative, and wanted to truly understand how their people felt about working within the service. They particularly wanted to find out how their employees experienced leadership – what behaviours were felt to be reinforced, what was ignored (either positive or negative behaviour) and what were their employees’ levels of positive attitudes to work and wellbeing at work as a result of the leadership culture.
Specifically, they commissioned Real World Group to assist them as a result of our proven expertise in not only understanding barriers and enablers to a diverse and inclusive culture, but also how leadership contributes, and how greater engagement can be achieved overall through this process.
What we did
Merseyside Police Service had already decided that they wanted to run a survey, and so Real World Group expert psychologists designed a series of questions that would enquire about leadership culture, diversity and inclusion driven by the leadership culture, and levels of engagement.
The survey was sent out and analysed at two time points:
- Initially, to the whole force, with the results analysed and presented in clear form for leaders and employees at all levels to understand. The feedback was split by various demographic factors such as ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, level, role, location, and so on. This enabled the force to understand where there were strengths and areas for development in specific areas and among specific groups. The analysis included a clear indication of what would be the most influential leadership factors in improving diversity, inclusion and engagement across the organisation, based on their own feedback. The then Chief Constable was bold in this activity, and released the report of the findings to the press before he received it himself – a clear sign of genuine commitment to the independently collected and analysed findings.
- The survey went out a second time approximately 18 months later, after the force had had chance to act on the findings at various different levels. Data from the initial survey were analysed alongside the new data and a report was created that demonstrated where there had been neutral or positive improvements across employees, again split by various factors including level, type of role, location, etc.
Several very positive findings emerged from the comparison of the data from the first to the second iteration of the survey. Particularly of note are that:
- At a National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) conference, a Merseyside Police Service representative who had co-led on the project stood up and told the audience that they had estimated that the improvement in employee perceptions of leadership, diversity and inclusion meant that the force had saved an estimated £12.5mil over the past 18 months
- The data comparison also showed significant improvements in perceptions of leadership, wellbeing and positive attitudes to work across the organisation over the 18 month period
- Particularly positive was that perceptions of leadership and employee engagement had not only increased among underrepresented groups, but also across the majority groups. This is an important finding, demonstrating that there is a clear overlap between enhancing leadership for diversity and inclusion at the same time as engagement generally.