West Yorkshire and Harrogate Partnership: Moving diverse leadership forward

Fatimah Khan-ShahWest Yorkshire and Harrogate Partnership (WY&HP) is putting diverse leadership at the heart of its ICS workforce strategy, to address the disproportionately high poor experiences in the workplace for BAME staff.

One of its ambitions is to have a more diverse leadership that better reflects the communities and the broad range of talent in West Yorkshire and Harrogate, helping to ensure that the poor experiences in the workplace that are particularly high for BAME staff will become a thing of the past.

The West Yorkshire and Harrogate BAME Staff Network is an important part of turning this ambition into reality, with commitment and full support from the partnership’s leadership groups. It has real influence and purpose, with a network of colleagues at all levels working hard to support the partnership’s response across the following key areas:

  • leadership development
  • communication
  • health and wellbeing resources for staff
  • involvement in shaping and contributing to research
  • involvement in decision-making
  • a consistent approach to supporting our staff with risk assessments.

Keeping colleagues safe and well is a priority to everyone in the Partnership. With 100% commitment from the executive group, and following advice from the BAME Network, the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Association of Acute Trusts (hospitals working together) and the Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism Collaborative have worked with HR colleagues to develop a consistent approach to risk assessment in the workplace, demonstrating support for people in high-risk occupations and enabling staff to flex to meet local workforce need across organisations.

Fatima Khan-Shah, Programme Lead for Unpaid Carers and Personalised Care at the Partnership, describes how the experiences and talent of BAME staff are an essential part of the Partnership’s workforce plan:

“The experience of BAME colleagues, like my own, is important to informing how we move forward. We began by organising a BAME staff talent takeover in October 2019 where we showcased a series of 90-second film clips asking bold questions of our leaders across the partnership. This was also supported by colleagues in senior leadership positions sharing their personal career progression experiences. This in turn led to a thought-provoking, challenging debate on how together we should collectively and visibly change the current position on inclusion and diversity.

“Building on the support of the executive leadership session, which was part of the weekly leadership message, colleagues explained the importance of visible role models, peer support, a safe space to share experiences, and a forum to shape and influence change across the Partnership, as well as what already exists within their organisations.”

These sessions have led to a plan approved by the WY&HP executive group, and other forums, to deliver the ambition that our leadership reflects the communities it serves.

Network members have also been shaping the Partnership response to the impact of COVID-19 on BAME staff and communities, covering seven themes:

  • supporting research with lived experience
  • understanding the data
  • sharing good practice
  • tailored communications
  • bespoke health and wellbeing resources
  • targeted leadership support
  • representation in decision-making

The BAME staff network is also represented on the Partnership’s People Board, system leadership executive group, clinical forum and the health inequalities network. It is also involved in the WYHP’s independent review into the impact of COVID-19 on health inequalities and support needed for BAME communities and staff.

The network, alongside local organisation leads, supported the implementation of risk assessments for BAME workforce looking at underlying health conditions, mental and wellbeing support, and specific requirements surrounding Ramadan and other religious holidays. It is shortly expecting feedback via local networks on impact and actions taken.

Alongside this the Partnership launched its ‘Can You Hear Me?’ podcast series in May 2020, presented by the BAME network: the first one discussed ‘everything you wanted to know about COVID-19 but were too afraid to ask’, and two further episodes have looked at the health inequalities of unpaid carers from BAME communities for Carers Week and national adoption, and the Working Carers Passport, as well as a facilitated discussion about ‘white privilege’. The podcasts aim to give a voice to the diverse talent working to improve health and care for people in West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

Visit www.wyhpartnership.co.uk or get in touch with Brendan Brown or Fatima Khan-Shah to find out more.