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Saturday, 24th February 2024

Diverse Ethics at Ministry of Justice

Organisers of the PROUD network and keynote speakers at the conference


I had the privilege to give a keynote address yesterday 4th March 2013, at the PROUD conference of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic staff (BAME) working for the Ministry. The headquarters are in Petty France, close to Whitehall in London, the heart of British Government.

I was asked to speak about the vision and work of Diverse Ethics, and explained that our main focus is around leadership and culture change. I spoke about the importance of Cultural Intelligence in developing the Justice system in Britain, how this will help in terms of developing relevant laws and also in creating a fairer and more equitable system for a country that is increasingly becoming very different from what it was a hundred years ago. The system urgently needs to evolve, and for the Ministry to engage effectively with its minority staff, it needs to connect with their culture, understanding what it is that really motivates and drives them, and work with this to enhance performance and productivity.

The Ministry has serious problems in terms of the recruitment and progression of BAME staff and from the conversations I had, it was clear that some staff were not fully engaged with the employer and felt frustrated, especially when it came to obtaining interesting work opportunities and gaining progression within the organisation. There is a huge glass ceiling, with judges and senior lawmakers being predominantly white and male. The aim of the network was to support one another, and I was also happy to note that the staff were keen to help improve the whole organisation and work collaboratively with everyone. They wanted to integrate and help build a better Britain. Many people came up to me after my speech and expressed their gratitude for what I said and the uniqueness of the message.

The impression I got from the meeting was that the UK has very much an English Legal System, which is primarily culturally English, and leaders and policy-makers, do not seem to understand the inherent cultural bias of the system and the ramifications of this. Also the administrators of justice, barristers and judges, are also not fully representative of modern society. Some 35% of all prisoners come from BAME backgrounds, even when they are only 12% of the overall population. According to one estimate, it will cost £50bn in 2025 to keep BAME members in prison. There is plenty of evidence to show that this community suffers the most in this system, and the solution is not to use antiquated laws and a culturally insensitive justice system, which costs billions of pounds to run, and whose effectiveness is very poor. The solution is to understand and connect with this diverse community, which also has vast experience and skills in the areas of justice, fairness and equity, especially in the old religious traditions which they have inherited.

The entire conference was organised on a shoestring budget, which itself is evidence of how the Ministry values the importance of diversity. From meeting the members of the Proud network, I could sense their huge intelligence, passion and skill in providing leadership and guidance to the Ministry. Clearly there is much work to be done, and at the very least, the Ministry urgently needs a national faith and community advisory Board to help it approach Justice in a culturally sensitive way. Such a Board needs to work with leaders at the highest levels, and leaders need to be humble enough to want to listen to them with respect, humility and then translate the results into actual policies and legislation.

Article added on 5th March 2013 at 8:37am
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