MANDATORY training in unconscious bias is to be given to everyone employed by BCP Council as part of efforts to improve its representation of minority ethnic groups.

Responding to councillor Simon Bull who said there was a “lack of diversity at all levels”, its leader Vikki Slade said current recruitment processes were “not delivering” a representative workforce.

And she said a range of measures were now being considered to tackle this, including the new required training and the possibility of making job applications anonymous.

The issue was raised by Cllr Bull at Tuesday’s full council meeting, in light of concerns raised in the wake of concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter movement.

He said the council had a “perceived and actual” lack of diversity throughout its workforce.

Although the information is not recorded for about a third of employees,  only about two per cent of its workforce is from a black or minority ethnic group, according to the latest data.

This is despite about six per cent of the population of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole being non-white.

Cllr Slade said recruitment processes were “fair and robust” but admitted they were “not delivering a workforce that is truly representative”.

She said a working group was being set up to look at the reasons for this and said this would work to “hold the council to account” in meeting its commitments.

“There are a number of actions that we plan to take, including more accurately measuring the data on our diversity,” she said.

“We have inherited incomplete equalities data and we need to address that to know where our baseline is.”

Amongst the work already being carried out, Cllr Slade said HR policies were being “reviewed” and that this would include “considering anonymising personal data for shortlisting purposes”.

But she said mandatory unconscious bias training would be given to every council employee in a bid to make them aware of certain associations may unwittingly be made.

She also pledged to look at improving communications strategies to make sure they reached black and minority ethnic groups while also making sure the “imagery” used was not putting them off.