Kent Fire and Rescue Service recognise and understand that everyone is unique and everyone has value. We care about our customers and each other and work to ensure everyone feels they belong and can thrive. We are an inclusive organisation where kindness and a curiosity to talk and learn about each other is encouraged and lies at the heart of who we are and what we do.
We care about equality, diversity and inclusion - everyone matters and together every one of us helps to save lives.
We are one team - everyone together.
Equality Diversity and Inclusion and Kent Fire and Rescue Service
- is ensuring everyone has access to the same opportunities and services
- is being open to everyone, embracing difference
- is ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to make the most of their life and career
- is not sameness
- is what makes everyone different
- is not about labels or labelling people
- of thought has a positive impact in our workplace
- makes us unique, enabling us to thrive by embracing our differences
- is celebrating diversity, it’s importance and the value it brings
- is recognising and reflecting our constantly changing and different society
- creates an environment that values and welcomes everyone, helping everyone feel they belong
- is embracing everyone, together
What is Everyone Together?
Everyone is unique. We embrace this uniqueness, treating everyone as equals and ensuring the same opportunities are available to all. We strive to build open relationships based on trust, kindness and compassion, leading to a sense of belonging.
Everyone is different
Valuing difference in all its forms makes KFRS the organisation it is. Supporting and encouraging people to grow, thrive and be themselves goes to the heart of who we are, what we do and our success. Our differences support us in helping our customers
Everyone can be curious
Encouraging a greater curiosity to learn about each other and our customers is at the heart of who we are. Taking time to talk and explore our differences is everyone’s responsibility. It helps us all to grow and in turn enables us to understand and help our customers.
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Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) recognise that everyone is unique, everyone is different and everyone has value. As a service we are committed to ensuring we demonstrate fairness, sensitivity and respect in all aspects of our work and in relation to the lives of our customers and each other. Together we help to save lives, working as one team.
Our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion is also demonstrated by the language we use. What we say and how we say it can have a huge impact on those around us, which is why it’s important to make sure our language includes everyone. Remembering to speak and write with respect and kindness lies at the heart of who we are.
Inclusive language takes into the account the needs and differences of everyone.
It should be gender neutral.
It should not be:
- patronising or stereotypical
The language we use makes it clear we embrace diversity, and demonstrate the respect and sensitivity that we show to everyone.
This is taking the gender out of our everyday language. Being gender neutral is more inclusive. For example, rather than using 'he' or 'she', we try to use our customers' and each other's name, or refer to a person as 'they' or 'them'. We may also neutralise titles and roles as this avoids stereotyping and bias. For example, we employ firefighters not firemen, and we have a chair person not a chairman of our fire authority.
For further information please see the A-Z guide in the 'How to communicate’ section of our Brand Guidelines
Patronising or stereotypical terms
We avoid labelling people, we listen and try not to make assumptions based on stereotypes. By treating everyone with respect and consideration, we are more inclusive. Learn more on our 'How to have conversations' section of our Brand Guidelines
Language and equality, diversity and inclusion
The language we use should take into account the protected characteristics–elements of our identity that are known to be judged by society. The Equality Act 2010 protects us all by making it illegal to discriminate against or harass someone because of these characteristics. The language we use should be both kind and inclusive.
What is positive action?
Positive action is the deliberate introduction of measures to remove or reduce the effect of discrimination in the employment market. It is a way of encouraging and increasing job applications from people who are members of under-represented groups, and is lawful under the Equality Act, 2010.
This means that if there is an imbalance in our workforce, with certain groups under-represented, the Equality Act permits us to attempt to remedy this.
Why would we do this?
Positive action measures bring benefits to our organisation because it:
- widens the pool of talented, skilled and experienced people from which to recruit
- helps us create a dynamic and challenging workforce able to respond to changes
- gives us a better understanding of the needs of a more diverse range of customers
What we do
As an Equal Opportunities employer, we strive to ensure our workforce represents the community in which we work, and positive action enables us to do this. We are committed to equality, including making sure our recruitment, selection and promotion process encourages applications from a wide range of people, reflecting the difference in our customers. These steps help make KFRS an approachable service for everyone.
The Equality Act does not limit the action we can take, as long as it is a balanced means of achieving, enabling or encouraging participation. It could include:
- participation targets in our processes
- the provision of bursaries to obtain qualifications
- outreach work within the community to raise awareness of job availability
- reserving a percentage of places on training courses
- targeted networking opportunities
We are committed to attracting the best candidates from all backgrounds to ensure our workforce represents the communities we serve. Because KFRS has a substantially higher proportion of white, male firefighters, positive action initiatives enable us to seek to encourage applications for operational roles from women and those from an ethnic minority background.
Positive action - not positive discrimination
Positive action should not be confused with positive discrimination.
Positive discrimination is the act of favouring someone based on a ‘protected characteristic’ and is unlawful. Setting quotas or benchmarks in the recruitment process to take on a proportion of people from a protected characteristic group, or promoting a specific number of people within a minority group would be positive discrimination, We do not adopt this type of initiative, and only select the best candidates based on their performance, skills and merit.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is here for everyone. We recognise that everyone belongs and everyone is different and unique. Equality, diversity and inclusion lies at the heart of who we are, and in how we treat each other and our customers. We strive to ensure everyone has equal access to our services and does not experience any discrimination or harassment because of a protected characteristic.
What is a protected characteristic?
Each one of us has one or more of the nine protected characteristics, which are set out below. These were specified in the Equality Act, 2010, which made it illegal to discriminate or harass someone because of a protected characteristic.
The protected characteristics
A person should not be discriminated against or treated less favourably because of their age. This can relate to an age range, for example 18 to 30 year olds, or a specific age, for example 66. However, age can be referred to where it creates a risk – for example, we know and understand the increased risks older people face in the home. Consequently, we provide help and support for older people through our free Safe and Well visits, enabling them to live safely and independently at home wherever possible.
We also work with schools, colleges and young people enabling us to help them and their families keep safe, not only at home, but on the road. We provide fire safety education to our specialist ‘firesetter’ officers (helping young people with dangerous interests in fire), and actively engage in youth programmes. We are also members of the government’s apprenticeship scheme providing opportunities people of all ages.
Within KFRS, there are a wide range of ages represented within the service, with our operational staff being in a slightly younger age band than our support staff. Because our staff turnover is low, we anticipate the average age of our workforce will increase.
The Equality Act defines disability as a ‘physical or mental impairment’ which ‘has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’.
An ‘impairment’ can be physical or mental, and does not have to be a medically diagnosed condition, while long-term means an impairment that will, or has lasted for at least 12 months.
KFRS understand and recognise that disabled people can also be ‘disabled’ by socially created barriers, such as poor accessibility or other people’s attitudes.
We work to provide an inclusive service and workplace. We recognise that disabled customers and colleagues may require a range of different solutions and may in some circumstances, face increased risks for example, disabled customers in the home.
Gender reassignment is the process of changing the sex you were assigned at birth to the sex that affirms your gender identity.
It's important to understand that this is a personal process rather than a medical one. You do not have to undergo medical treatment or be under medical supervision to be protected under the Equality Act as a transgender person.
A person's self-affirmed gender identity may not be binary (ie male or female) and may be fluid. Wherever possible, KFRS strives through the use of first name, last name and adapted pronouns, to be sensitive to the preferred genders of our customers and colleagues.
Marriage and civil partnership
Marriage and civil partnerships are unions between a man and a woman or between a same-sex couples.
However, this protected characteristic does not apply if you are:
- living with someone as a couple but are neither married nor civil partners
- engaged to be married but not married or divorced
- a person whose civil partnership has been dissolved.
Protection applies only in the workplace. There are some exceptions, for example a member of an organised religion could be refused employment if married or in a civil partnership.
KFRS treats all customers and employees or volunteers equally, regardless of their marital status.
Pregnancy and maternity
Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant, while maternity refers to the period after the birth and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context.
In non-work situations, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, which includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding.
KFRS has a comprehensive family policy to ensure that those with, or prospective, parental responsibilities are well cared for when working for us and embraces:
- shared parental
- parental bereavement
- foster care
- special guardianship
Under the Equality Act, race includes a person’s colour, nationality, and ethnic or national origin. This protected characteristic includes individuals as well as racial groups, which in turn can include a group made up of two or more groups, encompassing their racial heritage.
Racial inequality can affect anyone, including our customers and colleagues. Kent Fire and Rescue Service is opposed to any form of racism, or discrimination. We are here for everyone in the county and offer a translation service on our website, making safety advice and information available to people regardless of their language requirements.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is opposed to any form of racism or discrimination. We do not tolerate hate. We are here for everyone in the county and ensuring we are culturally aware is important to us.
Recognising that our customers are more ethnically diverse than we currently are, we offer a translation service on our website, making safety advice and information available to people across a range of languages.
We value diversity and are working hard to address a lack of representation of colleagues from minority ethnic backgrounds. Although there is still a lot of work to do, our recent voluntary Ethnicity Pay Gap Report demonstrates our commitment to the representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds across all roles at every level.
The protected characteristic of sex relates to men and women.
While nationally fire services tend to be composed of more males, KFRS proactively encourage female wholetime firefighter recruits. Nearly 50% of our non-operational senior managers are women including our chief executive.
Our equal opportunities policies and processes help us prevent discrimination and promote equality in the workplace, and we provide a range of flexible working arrangements which enable parents to combine work and family commitments.
Although there is still a lot of work to do, our recent Gender Pay Gap Report demonstrates our commitment to the representation of women across our organisation in all roles at every level.
People are protected from discrimination on the grounds of who they are attracted to sexually. A person’s sexual orientation may be towards people of the same sex (gay or lesbian), the opposite sex (heterosexual), or of either sex (bisexual).
KFRS understand that a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity is important and that a person can encounter discriminatory attitudes relating to both.
We are passionate about supporting and celebrating Pride across Kent and Medway, working with LGBTQ+ charities to provide safe spaces, and host events for LGBTQ+ youth groups supporting their understanding of safety as well as job and volunteering opportunities.
Within our organisation, employees are encouraged to be open about their sexual orientation and we are proud to have a thriving internal colleague network.
Religion and belief
Religion refers to any religion, including a lack of religion.
Belief refers to any religious or philosophical belief and includes a lack of belief.
We seek to ensure we have awareness of religious diversity and the way this interacts with the cultural and racial identities of the people we serve. This means that when we visit our customers properties, we ensure we do so in a religious and culturally sensitive manner.
Communities and Members
Getting to know local communities, customers and employees
We are here to help the people of Kent and Medway stay safe.
Understanding our local communities helps us in this important work. To do this we have a team who analyse local and national data enabling us to profile community risks and ensure that we continue to provide the services that people need. We also identify emerging trends so that we can continuously develop our services for the future.
The community profiles we produce at a county and local level include statistical data across protected characteristics. We get to know our customers and communities through events, programmes and visits. We also consult with the public and colleagues, including representatives of diversity groups, through our Safety and Wellbeing Plan consultation process.
We use this data (including equality data) to help make good decisions for our community and workplace through the use of a tool called a 'People impact assessment', also known as 'equality impact analysis'.
The Equality Act, 2010, requires us to consider each protected characteristic in conjunction with our activity to ensure that we are:
- eliminating discrimination and promoting inclusion
- encouraging the development, growth and maintenance of ideas and attitudes which result in good or improved relations between the individuals in different groups
- minimising or removing disadvantage experienced by people who share a protected characteristic, reducing their under-representation in particular activities and meeting their particular needs. A people impact assessment is an ideal tool to help us ensure we do this.
Our equality information informs and enables us to direct our community safety activities towards people who are at greater risk including older people, those living independently with physical disabilities and mental health issues, and transient people. We are also committed to helping people live well and independently in their own homes and have worked with Public Health England and NHS to explore opportunities to do this, while our customer Safe and Well visits also help to identify health issues and provide interventions or referrals where appropriate
In addition we use incident data, debriefs and surveys to identify who uses our services, which groups of people are most or least likely to use them in the future and to obtain feedback. This information is published as part of the Corporate Plan.
Businesses in Kent
We work with business to reduce risk and keep people safe, using equality data to ensure our approach to business safety is fair and equitable.
Every one of us helps to save lives. We work together as one team, recognising that everyone is unique and has value. We treat everyone as equals and ensure the same opportunities are available to all, striving to build open relationships based on trust, kindness and compassion, leading to a sense of belonging. We support and encourage people to grow, thrive and be themselves which in turn enables us to understand and help our customers.
Not only do we strive to create a great place to work, we want to ensure it is an equitable one. We monitor the composition of our workforce through analysis of equality data (protected characteristics such as age, gender, etc). Our colleagues have a voice in how we develop our policies and we hold ourselves to account by creating opportunities for colleague feedback. The Equalities Act 2010 requires us to demonstrate our compliance with the public sector equality duty and publish a gender pay gap report. This report shows the differences in average pay between men and women (Please note this is not the same as Equal Pay which is the difference between men and women who carry out the same or similar jobs or work of equal value). In addition to Gender Pay gap reporting, although it is not a legal requirement, our last report also looked at disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation pay gaps within our workforce.
We have partnerships with other local authorities, agencies and community groups, including the Armed Forces Covenant. Working with these partners helps us to engage with communities and meet their diverse needs.
Armed Forces Convenant
Kent Fire and Rescue Service is proud to hold an Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award under the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. This means that we support the armed forces community and our values are in accordance with the Armed Forces Covenant.
What is the Armed Forces Covenant?
The Armed Forces Covenant is an ongoing ‘promise’ that the government and the nation recognise the obligation we have to those who serve or have served in the armed forces, their families, veterans and the bereaved.
It seeks to ensure that members of the armed forces, former members and their families are not disadvantaged when using public and commercial services.
It requires they are treated with fairness and respect and that special consideration is given to those who have been injured or bereaved.
Some 4,000 organisations, businesses and charities have committed to uphold the covenant including Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Find out more about the covenant.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant
As part of our commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant we currently have 24 Kent and Medway Armed Forces Service champions, who work in different parts of our organisation.
Our champions are volunteers who have undergone special training, are all mental health first aiders, and include four veterans and two reservists. Their knowledge and training enables them to help, understand and support those who are, or have been, members of the armed forces and their families
How do our champions help?
Our champions have helped service and ex-service personnel and their families obtain help with matters ranging from housing, health and finances to friendship visits and mental health, liaising with organisations such as The Royal British Legion, the RAFA, SSAFA and the RNRMC.
An example of how we can help arose during an incident when one of our firefighters who is an ex paratrooper, discovered an older customer was also a former paratrooper. The firefighter was able to help, not only by liaising with organisations who could assist, but by taking the customer to a Remembrance Sunday parade with refreshments afterwards!
We are here to help and give advice during Safe and Well home visits, or during any emergency or non-emergency situation.
Summary of Gender Pay Gap and Ethnicity and Disability Pay Gap Report 2020
Each year Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) publishes a Gender Pay Gap Report. A gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men's earnings. The full Kent Fire and Rescue Service Gender Pay Gap Report 2020 is available.
We continuously work towards reducing inequality, not only in terms of pay, but ethnicity and disability too. This can be evidenced by our gender pay gap (GPG) which is lower than the national figures, and our policy of reducing inequality further.
Gender Pay Gap Report 2020
The GPG is a key indicator of workplace inequality, its reporting leading to greater transparency. When considering GPG and KFRS, it is important to remember (a) Fire and Rescue Services remain male dominated which, together with a low staff turnover, means rectification will be longer term; and (b) GPG varies by occupation and age.
For the year ending (y/e) 2019 more women were employed than men leaving the service. Our published figures relate to average and middle GPGs, and the proportion of men and women employed in each pay band. They are based on ‘ordinary pay’ - basic pay plus allowances, leave and shift payments. Green, grey and gold book employees, those on dual contracts and on call, were included.
For the y/e 2020, 16.6% of 1523 staff were women, rising yearly from 2017-19, but remaining static for y/e 2020 due to the increase in total employees. The ‘mean’ GPG (difference between mean hourly rates of pay as an average) for y/e 2020 is in favour of women, increasing by 1.2% on 2019. However, the ‘median’ GPG (difference between middle hourly pay) although decreasing shows male staff are still paid slightly more (0.9%/14p per hour). Comparison of the four salary bands show males are consistently the highest earners in KFRS.
Upper and middle bands had 36 new posts with women comprising 36.1% of new staff. Women’s representation in the lower band is 2% higher – equating to 15 more women than in the upper bands. For y/e 2020 women were paid slightly higher than men, but men are overly represented at all levels. We are committed to addressing the attraction and retention of women, protecting career progression and inclusive recruitment. Our brand review will enhance our flexibility and we continue to raise awareness of inclusion and diversity. These, along with other steps including research, leadership framework, talent benchmarking and continuing policy review, show our commitment to reduce the gender pay gap.
Ethnicity and Disability Pay Gap Report 2020
While not required to publish EDPG information, our research shows pay gaps are key indicators of inequality and that those from ethnic minorities and/or with a disability tend to earn less overall than white and/or non-disabled people. To provide transparency, awareness of inequality and to progress being an inclusive, equitable employer, we have considered our available data to inform an EDPG
We have applied the same metrics and employee definitions as those for the GPG. We considered those who did and did not identify as White British or declare a disability, and those for whom we have no data. (We have not considered a combination of sex, ethnicity and disability.)
Ethnicity - data at 31 March 2020 showed 59.82% of KFRS are white British, 3.81% other ethnicity and 36.68% unknown. Disability - 55.35% had no disability, 7.42% had disability and 37.23% were unknown.
The mean pay gap (see above) showed those of other ethnicity received £0.19p less (-1.1% difference in pay) while those with disability received £0.27p less (-1.6% difference in pay). (Note: the pay of ‘not known’ could impact these figures.) The median pay gap (see above) showed a minus figure of £0.25p (-1.6%) for ethnicity and £0.17 for disability (-£1.1%).(Note: this relates to representation and not equal pay.)
Pay bands show those of ethnicity are relatively evenly represented across the service. The ‘unknown’ number in lower bands is three times that of the upper band. The highest levels of those not identifying as white British are in the upper two bands. Information for disability is similar to ethnicity, this group significantly represented in the upper band.
To reduce EDPG long term, we are committed to improving our disclosure rates by at least 50% by 31 March 2021, understanding the nature of disability in KFRS including monitoring gaps albeit small, and working to attract and retain those from these groups. This will be supported by communications across all forms, inclusive recruitment strategy, flexibility and positive action activities.