Wow …..has there has been a lot of press speculation and comment on the costs of equality. Public Sector Duties hitting the headlines is a once in a lifetime event believe me and worst of all public sector equality monitoring costs around £25m a year – extortionate cries the press – saves money cry the politicians down from £55m.

The problem is that war-mongering about cost simply detracts from the serious argument. Of course equality monitoring costs. Any form of monitoring costs. As the biggest employer in the UK with around 6m employees….or 1 in 4 of those in work….or perhaps if you count those employees of business who offer government services on the public sector behalf….we may well be talking about 1 in 3….that makes any monitoring exercise big. Remember it isn’t just workforce statistics that are collected; it is about impact assessments, stakeholder groups, monitoring people who leave and those who apply for jobs and customer feedback as well. That’s a lot of monitoring and, of course, the costs are going to be big as well.

Now I am not here to argue about what is a reasonable cost, but I do think we need to look at what is being monitored and if it adds any value. It might be nice to have the statistics to quote in academic papers and government policies, but it also has to have a use in business terms….and let’s face it there is something very satisfying about bean counting. But the debate has to be about what statistics we should be collecting, what they tell us and whether any of that helps achieve equality in the workplace. If the public sector are to act as the trail blazers in the Big Society, then it is time to use their statistics to inform the debate about how we measure equality effectively and economically and it is time for business to engage in that debate rather than whinge from the sidelines…..and at least let’s all count the same beans for the same reasons.