Effective equality and diversity initiatives in health

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2018 Health Care Service Group Conference
7 December 2017

Conference welcomes the acknowledgement of the need to tackle bullying across the health service and to promote equality and diversity. However, conference believes that health employers’ equality intentions are not always backed up by effective actions.

Conference notes that with health employers across the UK, essential and mandatory equality and diversity training is increasingly delivered online. Conference believes that while online training can have a place in imparting facts, it rarely changes attitudes and beliefs. The growing understanding of how unconscious bias perpetuates disadvantage at work shows the importance of appropriate equality training.

This is underlined by 2017 research published by Exeter University that measured the difference between staff that had undergone online equality and diversity training and those who had not undergone any training and found virtually no measurable difference in their awareness or their equality and diversity intentions.

Conference welcomes other work to evaluate equality initiatives, including the research project based at York University, seeking to gain a better understanding of how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) staff networks are run, what they can do to improve relationships between colleagues, and ultimately, improve the wellbeing of LGBT employees. This project focuses on LGBT employee networks within the NHS, from different parts of the UK. UNISON is represented on the strategic oversight board.

Conference notes different branch experiences with staff networks, which vary in their representativeness of the full diversity of LGBT staff, across bands and job roles, and the degree to which they acknowledge the legitimate role of unions in negotiating equality and representing our members.

Conference also notes the power of simple visibility, with branches in a number of trusts and other NHS employers using rainbow Out in UNISON lanyards to great effect.

Conference therefore calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)work with employers through partnership bodies in all four UK countries, to push for equality and diversity training across the NHS that is based on the principles of effective training, including active learning, and is properly evaluated;

2)Encourage branches to seek to engage with LGBT staff networks where they exist, urging the networks to work in collaboration with union initiatives;

3)Urge branches to take steps to promote LGBT visibility as part of our strategy to promote LGBT workers rights.