CSP members are championing equality, diversity and inclusion in their workplaces. Four of them tell us why and how
Leon Ghulam Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust
I’m chair of the BAME champion group which is part of the trust’s inclusivity network. It’s newly formed, and has about 25 BAME staff members trust-wide to support BAME staff, sharing learning and potential opportunities.
My involvement began after completing the Stepping Up Programme through the NHS Leadership Academy, which transformed the way I consider the BAME workforce in a healthcare setting. I’ve worked in my trust for 15 years, and have seen very few BAME role models. I have sought out opportunities to shadow and learn about a BAME colleague in the chief nurses’ office, hearing and learning about his own personal experiences. It has been invaluable.
Through my role in the BAME champion group, we celebrated black history month by showcasing different BAME colleagues with blogs and profiles in our newsletters and on social media. Our group’s work was recognised with an award that was presented at a RCN black history month event. One of our trust board members now wants to learn more about the group and how the board can support it.
It’s also vital to have confidence talking about BAME staff and their experiences with white colleagues. This can feel uncomfortable at times, as people are often unsure of how to talk about or respond to conversations about race and ethnicity.
I’d encourage all members to get involved in highlighting, supporting and celebrating equality and diversity (E&D) by linking with the CSP diversity networks. They are a great source of support and information sharing. In your workplaces see what is happening, and even if there isn’t anything, engage with those around you – irrespective of background – through conversation. Remember to recognise the diversity around you and celebrate it.
Erin Power Solent NHS Trust
I’m an educator in practice within the learning and development team. We support the organisation in hosting student healthcare professionals on placement and aid the transition into the workplace of newly qualified healthcare professionals in their first year post registration. So I interact with learners and staff of all levels every day.
My work allows me to influence across the trust about disability rights and learner inclusion as a whole, ensuring that E&D matters are considered throughout everything we do. Because of the strong E&D focus in my work I’ve had the opportunity to co-chair our disability staff network that launched last year.
I’ve experienced a persistent lack of understanding around disability matters and consistent workplace discrimination. But when joining Solent NHS Trust in a corporate role I found the organisation to be responsive to feedback and they were looking for people to run a disability staff network.
We are very much at the start of our work for championing disability rights at Solent and so we have just had our first staff support meeting. We are scheduling another five to run this year with the aim of listening to experiences and identifying key streams of work.
It’s really rewarding how infectious a positive message about disability can become in the workplace. It really makes me think we have a chance of building a better culture for those affected now and those in the future: a culture where it is okay to ask yourself and ask anyone you support, ‘what do I/you need to be at my best at work?’
Zack Jepsen East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
I’m an LGBT+ champion, and as part of this, a trans* ambassador. The roles cover matters relating to both staff and patients.
From the outset, I was very open about my transition with my employer and they have been very supportive, providing time off for appointments and to attend CSP diversity network events and related activities. It was after seeing an advert in Frontline that I joined the CSP LBGT+ network. The experience prompted me to become more vocal to help improve things for other trans* people who didn’t feel as able to speak up, at ARC and TUC equality conferences and also in my workplace.
I initiated this by getting in touch with my employer’s equality and diversity lead. I discovered that people taking up E&D roles did not necessarily have direct lived experience of the people they would be representing and supporting, so I saw an opportunity to contribute
my own personal experience.
In the role, I am involved in looking at ways of improving pathways for patients, as well as workplace policies. I have supported trans* awareness training within my trust and was able to share my own personal experiences, which were fed back as being very beneficial to the staff in attendance. Recently I was a panel member within a Schwartz round, together with a BAME member of staff, where we discussed our stories and I responded to questions about how to improve workplaces for trans* individuals and ways to improve access to healthcare. I have also been supported to attend Stonewall’s role model course.
To get involved in your workplace, see what staff networks are out there. See if it is purely identified people or whether they have widened their scope to include allies. If you are an ally, do make sure you speak out – chat about when you observe behaviour that is not acceptable – feeding back to staff networks.
Jackie Loundes Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust
When I went to view a potential physiotherapy school in 1987 and was being shown around by a senior student she told me not to bother applying. That experience always stayed with me. When I got my current position, as part of my PDR I wanted to be involved in the black and minority ethnic group in the organisation. My manager was very supportive and thought it would be good for me to be a BAME champion, meaning that I would be a resource and contact person for the team on matters related to race. I went to an event for black history month and picked up a flyer about being an inclusion agent.
The trust had not done as well as they would have liked on E&D in the staff survey so they developed this role. Inclusion agents are staff members who are a resource and point of contact for staff in any of the protected characteristics. The idea is that we can signpost staff members to appropriate help and facilitate conversations at the local level to reduce the likelihood of situations escalating to formal grievances.
I have held discussions in my department where we looked at why inclusion agents were needed and educated the team on the protected characteristics. I disseminate information to the team related to E&D. For example the trust offered mindfulness courses to staff members and are putting on workshops to combat bullying and harassment. I have also provided information to my colleagues on their rights as a carer and how to access the support available through the trust.
It is great to be able to help people be more comfortable and happier in their jobs. Employers are really working hard to demonstrate their equality and diversity and this is an opportunity to help them achieve their goals. It will improve staff engagement, which in turn improves patient safety.
- Contact your equality and diversity department who will be able to point you in the right direction.
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