Eliminating racism and bias in disciplinaries

Despite some improvements in recent years, there is still lots of work to be done.  Every survey over the last decade and every workforce race equality standard (WRES) report has shown that in shortlisting, appointment, promotion, and disciplinary processes, institutional racism is at play. According to the 2019 WRES data, the Midlands and East of England regions increased formal disciplinaries for BME staff.

Since the inception of the WRES, it has been clear that existing capability, disciplinary, and sickness procedures adversely impact our colleagues from BME backgrounds.

The 2019 General Medical Council (GMC) Fair to Refer report by Dr Doyin Atewologun and Roger Kline found that BME doctors were twice as likely as white doctors to be referred to the GMC.

Qualitative feedback (London Race Equality Strategy 2020) also illustrates how adhering to these processes negatively impacts BME staff engagement, trust, and productivity. Work has been ongoing to close this gap, mainly centred on formal disciplinary procedures.

There are national targets in the People Plan expect 51% of all organisations to eliminate the gap in relative likelihood of entry into the disciplinary processes by the end of 2020.

Recommendations to eliminate racism and bias in disciplinaries

These recommendations are for short term goals for 3-6 months (S), medium term goals for 6-12 months (M) and long term goals for 12 months (L).

  • All managers and HR personnel who could discipline BME staff need to consider involving an independent person (i.e. cultural ambassador) before a formal investigation to help eliminate any potential bias. (S)
  • All organisations to use the National Patient Safety Just Culture guidance as a framework for improvement. (S)
  • All Midlands organisations will have closed the ethnicity gap in the disciplinary process by the end of 2021. (M)
  • Anyone dealing with either formal or informal disciplinary must demonstrate the necessary knowledge, skills and cultural sensitivity to understand the effects of conscious and unconscious bias in decision making. (S)
  • Organisations must demonstrate that they are taking effective actions against those making decisions that have subsequently deemed to be biased or discriminatory. (S)