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Diversity: can you trust the NHS?

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3 ways to help create a more diverse senior leadership team than the NHS.

A report in the Guardian today found that there was a significant lack of diversity in NHS trusts (the bodies that decide how the health services are run) with only 2% of them being chaired by a person from a black and minority ethnic background (BAME). 

The data also indicated that only 4% of the executive directors and 7% of the non-executive directors on trust boards are from a BAME background.

The diversity problem within the NHS is part of a general problem whereby there is a lack of racial diversity in senior leadership teams. 

Sandra Kerr OBE, race equality director at Business in the Community says:

“Despite clear benefits of diverse leadership, our research found that the number of BAME senior managers decreased by 21,645 between 2007 and 2012, and that the gap between BAME and white representation at senior level continues to rise. If employers do not take action on this now at a strategic level, they risk being unable to attract and retain diverse talent, and will not reflect the changing demographic of their customers, clients, communities and service users”.

Creating more diversity at a senior level must therefore be driven by a coherent strategy towards a clear goal of greater BAME representation. 

Kerr, commenting further, suggested  three ways to move beyond institutional barriers that stop career progression for BAME employees:

1.mandatory unconscious bias training for those involved in appraisal and promotion processes

2.monitoring the number of BAME employees on training courses or fast-track programmes to ensure they are not being unintentionally excluded 

3.introducing a mentoring scheme to support BAME employees’ progression including reciprocal or reverse mentoring

“Only by changing culture and process will we achieve true meritocracy for BAME people wanting to progress,” she added.

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