North West makes historic commitment to tackle race inequality in the workplace

It is unacceptable that employees from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds continue to face an uphill struggle at work for equality of opportunity.

 Estephanie Dunn 6 Aug 2018

It is unacceptable that employees from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds continue to face an uphill struggle at work for equality of opportunity. 

It is unacceptable that our BAME members experience discrimination, harassment, disproportionate responses and exclusion in the workplace. That’s why I am delighted that one of the STP footprints in the North West has made a historic commitment to tackling race inequality in the workplace.

Greater Manchester’s public sector employers are the first in the country to collaborate after leaders signed a collective commitment to eradicate race inequality at work. Those pledging to work towards ensuring that our public sector staff from a BAME background can work in environments where equality of opportunity, experience and inclusion is the norm, where diversity is recognised and embraced include NHS organisations, Local Authorities, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and Greater Manchester Police. 

GM’s public services will build on current progress to improve diversity, to tackle any bullying and harassment experienced by BAME staff and ultimately improve the services they provide.  Evidence tells us that service users have a more positive outcome when the staff who provide their care are treated with civility, respect and fairness.

RCN North West is now working in partnership with organisations, our representatives, sister trade unions, staff and BAME staff groups to develop an action plan to be launched in the autumn. This will not only provide a clearer picture of the experiences of BAME staff within different public sector organisations, but will also map out positive action thus far and highlight gaps that need to be addressed as we strive to build an equitable and inclusive set of public sector services. 

Whilst last year’s NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report showed that progress is being made to reduce discrimination against BME Nurses, they are facing an uphill struggle for equality. 

I remain concerned that one in every five nurses and midwives are from a BAME background, yet they remain significantly underrepresented at senior management levels and at higher pay bands.  It deeply troubles me that BAME staff are more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process in comparison to white staff and that there is a disproportionate level of referral to the NMC, their regulatory body. 

Racial inequality in the workplace affects the morale, physical and emotional well-being of the individuals who experience it. This has a knock on effect on patient care, organisational reputation and finance. It impacts on an organisations ability to recruit and retain staff, and there is the unquantified cost due to the loss of talent and ability. Robust action is need to address this wave of discrimination that is so prevalent across the health and social care sector and other public sector organisations.

The North West region has a richly diverse range of nurses from a BAME background and we continue to look for ways to engage with our members and support organisations to promote an inclusive and equitable workplace where everyone can thrive.

In support of this aspiration, we were keen to utilise the Cultural Ambassador programme, which was implemented by former West Midlands Regional Director Paul Vaughan. This helps organisations to identify and challenge any potential bias and discrimination within the workplace.

During the 12 month pilot, our Senior Regional Officer Ian Fletcher, alongside Regional Officer Sumbo Campbell, worked with The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust in Merseyside. This has been so successful that we are now in the process of identifying ways to engage with trusts that have come forward to work with us to implement the programme in their organisation.

The moral, economic, legal and social imperatives are clear, there is no room for discrimination, lack of equality of opportunity or exclusion across health and social care and the wider public sector. There is certainly no place for it within the nursing profession and I am hopeful that our work will further improve working conditions for BAME staff across Greater Manchester and be mirrored in areas not only in the region, but up and down the country.

Estephanie Dunn

Estephanie Dunn

Regional Director, RCN North West

Estephanie Dunn has a lifelong background in nursing, spanning the independent sector and NHS. Prior to becoming Regional Director for the RCN North West Region in August 2014, Estephanie worked as the Operational Manager for the RCN’s Northern Region.


Page last updated - 05/09/2018