To coincide with National Inclusion Week and Black History Month, CTSI Chair Tendy Lindsay – who also serves as Chair of the CTSI Race & Equalities Working Group – took some time out of her busy day job as a Trading Standards Law Consultant to talk about why diversity and inclusivity should be factored into every aspect of Trading Standards work, from qualifications and recruitment through to compliance and enforcement.
“Inclusion and diversity are very important for Trading Standards because the communities we serve are very diverse,” says Lindsay. “For example, in London and the Midlands there are lots of people of colour, and it’s important that when they get compliance advice, they can relate to the Officers giving them that advice.
“People are more comfortable, whether we like it or not, with people who look like them or sound like them. A lot of businesses are very afraid of officials from the government or local authorities, but they feel more at ease when they see an inspector or person that reflects them.
“There are lots of Black and Asian food premises – whether they’re restaurants, takeaways, or supermarkets – and it’s important for them to understand compliance with regards to food and allergens. They have to understand that if they don’t give the right information to the consumer, that can lead to death.”
Lindsay cites the multilingual allergen awareness resources produced by Caerphilly Trading Standards with the support of CTSI as a recent example of a practical, successful approach to inclusivity. “I’m very happy with the project to produce food allergen packs in various languages, and that’s why it’s important to have diverse Officers working within local authorities or within businesses, and giving compliance advice to consumers,” she says.
Diversity goes beyond frontline enforcement though, Tendy believes. “Recruitment has to change – we’ve got to be reaching out to everyone, in terms of social justice as well as ethnicity. We need to reach out to people from different classes. When it comes to entry requirements for Trading Standards, it’s great that we’ve got apprenticeships, because some kids may not do well in exams. It enables Trading Standards to recruit people into the profession who can work their way up.
“It’s about building relationships; as I said, people tend to relate better to people who can speak the same language, and I’m not just talking about foreign languages, I’m talking about style of speech, different regional accents. Sometimes it’s important to take that into account during recruitment processes.
“Recruitment panels themselves have got to be reflective and have different stakeholders. You can’t have an all-White or all-male panel trying to recruit diverse people, because there are unconscious biases within all of us.”
Diversity goes beyond ethnicity or gender, Lindsay points out; it’s also about life experiences: “We should also include different types of people from industry, organisations like the police and the armed forces, because they’ve got wonderful skills that we can use to improve our enforcement and compliance work.
“Diversity and inclusion bring innovation, which brings better ideas in terms of how we serve our communities and protect consumers, and give better advice to businesses. Self-regulation within businesses is essential, because we don’t have enough people around the country checking up on everyone. We have to educate and empower businesses so they know what they’re supposed to do. With food, for example, if a business understands how it can get a five-star rating, customers will want to come and spend money, and everyone wins.”
Race & Equalities Working Group
How does this tie into the work of the CTSI Race & Equalities Working Group? Have there been any recent successes? “Within CTSI we have challenged recruitment methods and as a result we are more diverse, especially at senior management levels,” Lindsay says. “There is still room for improvement but things are changing at the top. That is important when we’re making Board decisions in terms of our vision and in terms of how we progress as a membership organisation.
“There are also real opportunities to work with small businesses, and to look at how much Black and Asian businesses contribute to the economy. If we always concentrate on Primary Authorities, or political incentives, or the big organisations, we may miss the many small ethnic businesses that really contribute to the economy. We don’t necessarily tap into them as Trading Standards except when we’re prosecuting them, and we don’t think about the advantages of working positively with them.
“So again, that’s why it’s important in terms of being more representative on our Board, in the committees that we serve on, and when we’re looking at professional qualifications. And hopefully we’re going to see more nominations of people of colour to the College of Fellows – there are lots of people with a great deal of experience and who are worthy of recognition.”
During her tenure as CTSI Chair, what does she want to make a priority? “The main thing is being inclusive and ensuring that we’re taking care of our members,” she says. “Providing proper leadership is important, as is keeping our members informed in terms of our vision and what we’re trying to do as an organisation.
“This is an aging profession and we need to recruit a lot more young people; people are retiring and if things continue as they are, at some point we’ll have hardly anybody left. So my goal is to make sure that membership increases and we also have a diverse membership, in terms of all the characteristics: we need to have more people of colour from each of the four regions of the UK, more people with disabilities, more women and more LGBTQ members.
“And number one, we need to respect each other.”