To Inclusion and Beyond!

Thu 2nd Feb 2017 – by Anna Olek

Lyndsay Bunting, Deputy Director, EMLA

It seems that, lately, issues of inclusion have become a very welcome talking point . As part of its  commitment to improve issues of inclusion within the NHS, The Care Quality Commission now includes the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) in its assessment of the Well Led domain. The WRES sets out a number of requirements for organisations to meet which will inevitably improve how we as a collective workforce manage diversity issues. But something more is needed if we are to shift the culture of Health and Care.

The WRES is one way of beginning to address the unfair practices often faced by people from a BME background, but to have a truly diverse workforce and inclusive culture, more needs to be done to understand bias, unthinking attitudes and prejudice against all ‘minorities’, by all of us, if we are to change the culture in Health and Care.

The basis of the inclusion agenda is founded on principles of fairness and justice and it’s bounded in bias presumption and judgement. Sometimes this isn’t even a conscious or tangible process. Unpicking this bias is a long and difficulty journey. It is also a very personal journey. Facing up to and understanding your own beliefs and opinions is an emotional and brave practice to engage in and something that not everyone will be readily able to do.

Making inclusion a personal issue rather than a policy issue will effect a real cultural change and lead us beyond the rhetoric into pragmatic, concrete changes. So as well as meeting the standards, how do we therefore extend the WRES and make sustainable changes?

Historically, where there has been some success in changing mindsets and cultures (for instance how the environmental movement changed from being a few marginalised trailblazers in the 60s to today’s mainstream education around sustainable practice) it’s taken a sense of purpose from a few to create a wave of enthusiasm and passion for transformation which has ignited the fire in others. This is the basic theory of social movements.

Social movements can be defined as sustained, organised collective efforts that focus on some aspect of social change. They tend to persist over time far more than other forms of collective behaviour and could be key to helping our service to develop the inclusive culture we strive for.

To start a social movement it takes just a few people to stand up for a cause, to articulate their passion and create the platforms for change. It matters not who these people are and in fact it can be very powerful having advocates that are from multiple and different backgrounds as this can sometimes add credence to the cause in the eyes of others.

EMLA is involved in a number of inclusion projects; for example, we support a vibrant Visible Leaders’ Network for BME leaders; but to create a social movement for an inclusive Health and Care service needs people who are driven and willing to stand up for what they believe in. Watch this space for how you can join us!