Investigation into municipality of Steenwijkerland's approach to discrimination (signals)
How does the municipality of Steenwijkerland act when (signals of) discrimination occur in society? Does the current procedure fit the role, tasks, powers and policy to be (part of) an inclusive society? This question was central to the research we conducted into the working methods of municipalities in response to (signals of) discrimination.
To conduct this research, we conducted desk research on existing policies at the national, regional and local levels, and we conducted (group) interviews with municipal employees. This showed that the current working method is partly in line with the policy of being an inclusive society. Employees are curious towards residents and try to forward questions and problems to the right person within the municipality. The multidisciplinary consultation and short lines of communication between employees from different domains ensure that residents’ problems are dealt with quickly.
There is no clear internal method of dealing with discrimination (signals). In this working method it is necessary to make more connections between domains of the municipality and between the municipality and other organizations. In addition, employees lack sufficient awareness about discrimination.
To improve working methods, we make a number of recommendations. In dealing with (signals of) discrimination, the municipality of Steenwijkerland fits a facilitating and informing role. As a facilitator, the municipality can help parties involved to implement action-oriented policy. In the informing role, the municipality should proactively ensure that residents know how to find information about reporting discrimination. In addition, we advise the municipality to gain a better insight into the nature and extent of the problem. We advise the municipality to organize training for employees aimed at recognizing signals. Finally, we notice support among employees for inclusion policy and a clear internal procedure. We advise the municipality to appoint an attention officer to draw up the policy and the internal working method appropriate to local needs.
The Municipality of Steenwijkerland is adopting our advice and is actively working on it. The plans were recently presented to the city council. View the information note (in Dutch) including our research on the municipality’s website.
For more information about this research, contact Annejet Kerckhaert.