Expanded equality reps pilot goes live

Major boost for equity diversity and belonging at the CSP as over 40 members train to become equality reps 

Equality Reps

As many as four dozen additional workplace equality reps will start in their roles this month as part of an extended pilot to explore the value to members and how they underpin the CSP’s equity, diversity and belonging strategy. This will see equality reps in at least three NHS organisations in each region of England and in Wales and Scotland. 

Equality reps are a CSP workplace role focused on supporting and extending equality for physiotherapists and support staff at work. They are all working CSP members who have volunteered. Just like CSP stewards and safety reps, they receive protected ‘facility’ time from their employer, to carry out the role, and are supported by the CSP with training and by CSP organisers and senior negotiating officers.   

Co-lead of the pilot Iain Croker, a CSP trade union organiser, says: ‘Our new equality reps will work alongside existing stewards and safety reps to better support members facing discrimination. They will seek to work in partnership with employers to create a more inclusive workplace where all staff can progress, thrive and belong, free from barriers and behaviours that should have no place in a modern workplace.’

Local rep team

Stewards and safety reps in organisations where new equality reps have stood for election and been elected have been kept informed and will be working alongside them as integral part of the local CSP rep team. 

Frontline has previously reported on the impact existing equality reps have made since the pilot was launched in 2021, and some of their work was highlighted at the CSP’s Rep of the year awards at the Annual Representative Conference in June.  

Doreen Caesar, an equality rep at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust since 2021 and former chair of the CSP BAME network says: ‘Before I started in my role, there wasn’t much diversity within the trust [union] staff side so it was a big and positive change to have somebody who was picking up boldly on equality issues. I have been challenging and that challenge has helped shape developments in a positive fashion in our trust.’

Helen Lewis, a steward at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, works alongside an equality rep at her trust. She says: ‘Our equality rep Tony is a fabulous resource for our CSP rep team. He is a real asset in helping us progress equity diversity and belonging in many ways including advising stewards with casework, where members feel their protected characteristics are relevant to their case.’

Positive development

Jill Taylor, a workplace steward as well as chair of the CSP employment committee and national group of regional stewards adds: ‘The equality rep pilot is a really positive development. As steward, I think it is really valuable to have somebody in our workplace rep team who we can go if we have questions and with who we can work on equity, diversity and belonging. 

‘Equality reps help us ensure workplace policies and the way those policies are implemented is inclusive for all physiotherapy and support worker staff and takes into account diversity and equality issues impacting the workforce.’

National officer for equality and diversity Siân Caulfield is co-leading the pilot with Iain Croker. She says: ‘It was fantastic to see so many people from different walks of life including many with protected characteristics respond to our call this spring for expressions of interest in the role. 

‘This really strong response already meets a couple of key aims of the pilot: to increase engagement with members from diverse backgrounds and better support them to take up CSP volunteer roles in the workplace, in line with the CSP’s EDB strategy. 

‘I look forward to working with our larger cohort of equality reps in the months ahead.’

How to contact your equality rep

A CSP equality rep under the pilot is an influencing and organising role in NHS workplaces with an existing steward. It does not involve handling casework directly although equality reps can use their expertise in equality to support stewards with casework. 

Equality reps:

  • work with CSP stewards and health and safety reps on updating your workplace policies.
  • support members facing discrimination at work by signposting the local CSP steward and CSP resources.
  • together with other local CSP reps, develop strategies to advance EDB in your workplace.
  • engage with your employer, staff EDB networks and other local ‘staff side’ unions to progress EDB in the workplace.
  • keep CSP members informed of and engaged around workplace developments relating to EDB.

    Equality reps already exist in some other unions in different forms and the CSP took the decision in 2021 to pilot our own equality reps. This extended pilot will be evaluated next year.  

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