Black History Month panel discussion event
The event was attended by more than 90 people including Trust staff and external partners from local healthcare providers and social sector organisations. The event was a huge success, receiving positive feedback from those present. A panel of experts explored the topic of “The end of racism?” with an emphasis on health inequalities for BAME people.The panellists and the questions they were asked included:
Roger Kline (national expert on inclusion) – ‘What sort of interventions on diversity work for the NHS?’
Wendy Irwin (Head of E&D RCN) – ‘Why is tackling micro-aggressions important in the workplace?’
Jagtar Singh (Cov & Warwick Chair, HSJ Asian Achievement award winner) – ‘How can we break down barriers and reduce inequalities (emphasis on BAME healthy inequalities)?
Bev Baker (UHB Matron & BAME Network Chair HGS) – ‘What are the barriers to career opportunities faced by BAME staff and how do we overcome these?’
Mehrunnisa Lalani (UHB NED) – ‘As a board member what role do you think boards play in promoting diversity and inclusion and is UHB an exemplar?’
Tracie Jolliff (Director of Inclusion, NHS Leadership Academy) – Inclusive Leadership – ‘What changes need to happen in leadership development to equip leaders with the capabilities to accelerate the pace of change towards inclusion?’ and ‘What new ways might we consider that hold leadership to account in order to ensure that increasing levels of inclusion are built into day to day leadership practice?’
Olga Leach-Walters (UHB Nurse & BAME Network Chair QE) – ‘Is there a disparity between BAME staff entering the formal disciplinary process compared to white staff and why do you think this is?’
Roger Kline spoke about ‘what works’ in relation to his research with healthcare providers looking at BAME overrepresentation in the disciplinary process and BAME underrepresentation in appointment after shortlisting figures. Roger has worked with healthcare providers across the UK and explained some of the interventions that others have introduced which make a difference. Such interventions include inserting a level of challenge for the decisions which are being made. For instance, those Trusts who have introduced a greater level of scrutiny in decision making and require managers to justify why they have appointed the person who got the job, or justify why the staff member needs to go through the formal disciplinary process, have seen a significant improvement in the figures reported in the Workforce Race Equality Report (WRES).
Wendy Irwin spoke about the power of micro-aggressions, those looks between people when someone enters the room, the raise of an eyebrow or a throw away comment about someone. She likened it to a mosquito bite, one micro-aggression or mosquito bite isn’t nice but won’t hurt you too much, but many micro-aggressions or mosquito bites all day every day will seriously harm you. She spoke of the mental and physical effects on a person who is constantly on the receiving end of micro-aggressions and urged people to challenge inappropriate behaviour. Some people may not challenge due to fear of repercussions but challenge doesn’t have to be hostile or aggressive, challenge can be constructive and respectful.
Jagtar Singh spoke about his rise from Fire Fighter to Chief Officer in West Midlands Fire Service to Chair of Coventry and Warwick Mental Health Trust. He explained that people must look out for each other and described his ‘lift and carry’ theory which means as you are on your way up, lift and carry someone with you. Give someone a helping hand to progress personally and professionally. He also spoke of the 30/60/90 model, rather than trying to change the world all at once, instead ask yourself ‘what can I achieve in 30 days or weeks; can I achieve in 60 days or weeks; and what can I achieve in 90 days or weeks.
Bev Baker spoke about the barriers faced by BAME people to career progression and the impact it has on BAME people when they are faced by an interview panel, or a workforce, or a senior management team who do not look like them. Bev questioned how many BAME people in the Trust are Matrons or Senior Managers? She asked for a show of hands of how many people have tried time and time again to move up the bands but can’t seem to get passed the interview stage. However, she urged BAME staff to keep trying, don’t give up, stay positive, put your best foot forward and challenge the decisions which are made even if that means having those unconformable conversations.
Mehrunnisa Lalani spoke of how the Board plays a key role in embedding inclusion in the Trust. The Board can champion equality and diversity and an inclusive culture from the top of the organisation; board members can lead by example and help to foster a culture of equality and diversity that supports the Trust’s strategy. She challenged the Board and Senior Managers to help embed equality and diversity by occasionally attending staff network meetings. She explained that the Board can define and shape the Trust’s approach to inclusion by working closely with staff and patient. She stressed the importance of the Board in ensuring accountability by holding to account the decision makers.
Tracie Jolliff spoke of the importance of inclusive leadership and empowering our staff to be the leaders of the future. She said that leadership is not just the responsibility of the senior managers but is everyone’s responsibility in the organisation. She said that we are all our own CEO’s and stressed the importance of white staff and BAME staff alike in making lasting change. She explained that although inclusive leadership is key to a culture shift it is important to remember that interventions do not work in silo, they must come together, in order to change hearts and minds.
Olga Leach-Walters spoke of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) results for both QE and HGS and in particular the relative likelihood of BAME staff entering the formal disciplinary process compared to white staff. Although there has been an improvement in the figures compared to the previous year there is still more work to be done. She spoke a feeling amongst our BAME staff that they have to be twice as good as their white counterparts not just in capability in their jobs but in their day to day conduct too. However, Olga said in regards to QE she feels a change, it feels more positive and staff often stop her to say things are feeling different now, things are starting to feel more positive.
For more information on all of the inclusion initiatives happening in the Trust or if you would like to get involved by joining one of the staff networks please contact Sally Lawson. The BAME network welcomes all staff including those staff who identify as BAME as well as allies.
All of the panellists spoke of the challenges and barriers experienced by BAME people in their professional lives, and this was echoed by the brave delegates who shared their personal stories with the audience: stories of people who have time and time again tried to go for more senior roles but cannot get past the interview stage; stories of people who are cautious of challenging decisions for fear of repercussions. However, the panellists all agreed that in order to make lasting change all people, regardless of ethnicity, must work together in achieving the same shared goal – an inclusive workplace where all people are valued and treated with respect and are able to fulfil their true potential.
There are a few key words which emerged from the event which we should promote and embed within our own practice and those in our teams:
Courage – to speak up and respectfully challenge
Challenge – to ask about why decisions were made
Curious – ask about the data and ask the questions
Be seen – make yourself visible to those who need to see you
Speak up – silence means acceptance
What one action will you take today towards achieving an inclusive workplace for all?