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Recruitment audit, training, policy review, and job design; we can support you with all stages of the recruitment process.

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This guest blog has been written Paul Deemer, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers, a sponsor of this year’s National Inclusion Week.

By sharing the NHS’s inclusion empowerment strategies, Paul offers inspiration and advice around taking action and making an impact.

 Staff networks are a key mechanism for empowering employees in inclusion. They can drive meaningful change, as well as empower staff with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. They provide a critical forum for individuals to come together, share ideas, raise awareness of challenges and provide support.

Supporting the NHS workforce during the pandemic

 

The NHS witnessed a surge in the number of staff joining staff networks across the health and social care sector during 2020/21.  These networks were often initiated to connect people around their ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, faith or religion, or disability. However, these networks were also critical in supporting and protecting staff against the impact of stress, anxiety and isolation triggered by the pandemic and lockdown.

Staff networks played a major part in supporting organisations’ approaches to risk assessments, shielding and the promotion of other health and wellbeing support available. Our webinar on how staff networks can support the health and wellbeing of staff shares further insights.

There are lots of different models for NHS staff networks. They can be led by organisations, led by unions, led by staff, or by a combination of these.

The NHS Staff Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group (EDIG)’s research found that the top five main areas of focus for staff networks in the NHS were:

  • being a safe space to raise concerns
  • the experience of staff at work and analysis of data
  • action planning
  • peer support
  • disseminating best practice.

Have you listen to our latest Podcast?

Raising up the Staff Voice through the Power of Staff Networks – a National Inclusion Week special episode with NHS Employers

List to this podcast episode
A diverse group of medical professionals having a discussion about inclusion in the workplace

The importance of executive support

Organisations whose leaders encourage staff to voice different opinions and to be their authentic selves are more successful. Networks need to be properly resourced, and that funding should come with executive sponsorship. There needs to be space for stories to be heard and for the issues that are raised to be explored. Networks must also have accountability and be connected to a decision-making forum within the organisation to have real impact.

The challenges for NHS staff networks can be staff having time to attend meetings and participate in network activities. Lack of formalised time allocation for chairs and co-chairs to carry out duties can also be a barrier. When networks are not funded, this can hold them back from achieving their aims. These are all key things to consider when establishing or developing staff networks.

Impact
Read about what some NHS organisations have done to empower employees in inclusion:

Keep an eye out for our forthcoming National Inclusion Week podcast on raising up the staff voice through the power of staff networks. You might also be interested in these events:

Recruit with confidence

Inclusive recruitment is key to diversifying your workforce.

Our experts provide tailored support, whether you’re starting from scratch or reviewing your current practices.

Recruitment audit, training, policy review, and job design; we can support you with all stages of the recruitment process.

Talk to us about recruiting inclusively