In 2019 the lack of progress the Trust was making for having a proportionate number of black and Asian minority colleagues in band 6 and 7 roles made it clear how unacceptable the lack of progress had become.
Following national guidance from the NHS leadership academy, we began conversations within the Trust – anywhere and everywhere – about why we are where we are.
The first of those conversations took place with the Trust board at a seminar in February 2020. Black and Asian minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues were invited to talk about their own experience and give an account of working in the Trust. These were extremely powerful and impactful to hear and fuelled our ambitions to create an inclusive workplace we could be proud of.
The next big conversations took place at leadership forums later that month and suggestions were made on actions we needed to take.
Brian Chiyesu, Lead Chaplain, undertook a national Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) training programme which has brought invaluable knowledge to the Trust and has been hugely beneficial to us. He is now co-leader of the Trust’s BAME network, making progress with the programme of improvements we are trying to make.
David Melia, Director of Nursing and Quality, liaised with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to organise a Developing Leadership Programme (DLP) for BAME colleagues. The programme allowed colleagues to once again share powerful testimonies of their experiences. The spirit of optimism and determination of the group was palpable and two colleagues have already secured promotions following their participation in the course. The success of the first cohort has meant the course will now run annually.
Progress was then stalled slightly by the developing pandemic. However, the growing impact of Covid-19 on BAME colleagues lead to webinars in April 2020 with BAME staff to ensure the correct risk assessments were in place and support was available, momentum for the programme of work began to pick up once again.
In October we celebrated Black History Month. Black History Month has been celebrated widely for many years within the NHS through honouring the achievements, culture and history of black people.
Our celebrations internally in October gave black colleagues a platform to raise their profile and discuss their achievements at a DLP celebration event and through vlogs and podcasts. It has been great to reflect on the progress we are making as a Trust to support and develop all our staff inclusively. It was brilliant to hear accounts from staff that they feel supported and able to achieve their ambitions, but there is still a way to go.
All the work we are developing is part of trying to ensure we have a culture and atmosphere in the Trust that BAME colleagues find nurturing. Every person should be able to fulfil their potential at work, regardless of their background, identity or circumstance and I look forward to continuing to make progress.