Difference welcomed

Karen Middleton explains why we all have a stake in the CSP Council elections and why improved diversity is in all our interests

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

The council elections are underway and my staff are gearing up to support the process, ahead of the poll opening for postal ballots on 7 June. 

There have been a number of articles over recent months encouraging you to stand for council with all the opportunities for development it could bring if successful.  But I want to speak particularly about the importance of diversity on council – and we all have a responsibility and an interest here, whether we intend to stand ourselves or not. We all have a vote and, I assume, an interest in how physiotherapy develops.

I have said many times that any team, organisation or board performs better the more diverse it is – this includes the protected characteristics in law, but also different experience, expertise and skills. Plenty of empirical evidence supports this and I want the CSP Council to be the best possible ‘board’ it can be because I want the organisation to be governed well and want the profession to be led by the best – and you do too, I am sure.

But there is another reason we need a diverse council and that is because we want diverse role models to look to for inspiration, to remind us that we too could be on council or fulfil other leadership roles, but that’s difficult if council all looks and sounds the same. 

If we have more diverse leaders, the ripple effect is more diverse succession-planning, more diverse recruitment and attracting more diverse students into training. With a more diverse profession, we have a more effective profession, which means better quality of care and outcomes for the population we serve.

To achieve this diversity, my team and I are looking at the structural barriers that get in the way. The current council has done a huge amount of outreach for people from diverse backgrounds with diverse characteristics to come forward, but we have to address the other side of the equation – inclusivity. How inclusive does our profession feel?

I recently spoke to a third year physiotherapy student who told me he has been told by clinical educators – physiotherapists – that ‘he doesn’t fit the mould’. What does that even mean? The longer we perpetuate the myth that you have to be a certain sort of person to be a physiotherapist, the longer we hold our profession back.

So if you’re thinking about standing for council, but feel that you’re different in any way, you’re probably exactly what we need. And if you’re not planning to stand, but want to see our profession go from strength-to-strength, think about how you use your vote. 

Consider your unconscious bias. Question whether you are selecting candidates because you recognise them or their experience because it’s similar to yours or whether you are truly thinking about what is best for the profession as you cast your vote. 

More information

Council Elections 2021 The nomination period closes on 17 May 21

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