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The Chief Executive of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group looks at the progress being made in Greater Manchester on workforce race equality:
Can you imagine the day when a black woman is as likely to be shortlisted for a senior position as her white colleague or that an Asian man is no more likely to enter the disciplinary process than a white man?
Greater Manchester can.
Greater Manchester is leading the way on the devolution of powers and budgets from national government. The aim is to enable more local decision making, which will lead to greater benefits for local communities.
Alongside a key focus towards people – their welfare and prosperity, Greater Manchester is committed to ensure equality and inclusion in the workplace.
For decades, research has shown that staff from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds do not progress at the same rate to higher graded posts or leadership positions; they experience a greater level of bullying behaviour and are more likely to experience disciplinary action.
Discrimination is not only harmful to the individual, but also to the wider public sector. Evidence shows that having a more representative workforce, and diversity at senior leadership levels, results in better outcomes for the public. It also creates a more inclusive and engaged workforce, who want to give of their best so that the public get a better service.
The NHS has created a significant asset in NHS England’s Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) programme which has been providing direction and tailored support to the NHS, enabling local NHS organisations to improve their performance on this agenda.
We will now be using the learning and measurement indicators of this programme to leverage improvement across all public sector organisations in Greater Manchester.
Whilst we can be proud of the diverse communities across Greater Manchester, we should also be disappointed that the experience of staff from BME backgrounds in the workplace is not getting better. To date, public sector organisations have gone their own way to improve race equality in the workplace. Some good work is taking place, but the current patchwork of initiatives and interventions has not provided the sector-wide impact we want to see.
The hackneyed saying: “The currency of leadership is what leaders pay attention to” could not be more relevant – and chief executives need to unite in a desire to make a substantial improvement.
I am therefore delighted that Greater Manchester’s public sector employers have signed a collective commitment to work together to tackle race inequality in the workplace. This historic commitment means that for the first time the NHS, local authorities, police and fire service will be working together to act on this critical agenda.
I am also proud that the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group has been selected to offer supportive leadership to colleagues in public sector organisations across Greater Manchester.
Our work across the public sector will focus on three outcome indicators:
- That BME applicants will be just as likely to be appointed from shortlisting as white applicants – within three years.
- To close the gap in disproportionate rate of disciplinary action between BME and white staff, such that there will be no difference in the likelihood of BME and white staff entering the formal disciplinary process – within three years.
- That we will see a 10% minimum (15% stretch) shift in BME representation into more senior grades in organisations – taking into account an organisation’s starting position.
We want everyone to feel welcome in our public services and we want to ensure that all staff are given the same opportunities to progress and flourish.
By coming together in Greater Manchester, sharing our learning of the WRES programme, and using improvement measures, we will really make the difference that our workforce and local communities need and deserve.