Equality and diversity

We are working together to build an inclusive culture at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust. Our aim is to consciously reduce the barriers experienced by people – colleagues, patients and carers – from a protected characteristic group and challenge the processes we create which can cause inequalities.

To do this we are listening and learning from our colleagues’ lived experience with the support of a number of colleague networks:

  • A Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) network to ‘create a supportive working environment and framework for BAME colleagues and encourage all to understand and respond to the needs of our BAME people’. The group has developed a poster campaign reminding patients, service users and colleagues of the importance of respecting and valuing our people and to stop abuse; commissioned hate awareness training; replaced our previous outdated mandatory and lead a campaign to raise awareness of micro aggressions and their impact.
  • A Lived Experience Disability Group. A key priority for the group is the introduction of reasonable adjustment passports, a documented record of adjustments required to remove disadvantages our colleagues who are disabled encounter at work. The introduction of the passport will remove this barrier and aims to increase applications from disabled colleagues for promotion.
  • A Women’s Network which is in the early stages of developing its term of reference and work plan. Its purpose is to create practical ways to support women, raise understanding and awareness of barriers facing women, support the work to create pay parity, empower women to develop their careers and to challenge bias and current norms.
  • Our Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered (LGBT+) working group. The only group currently covering both patients, service users and colleagues, it focuses on improving the environment for those within the LGBT+ groups. They regularly run drop in sessions for colleagues to learn more about the LGBT+ support services, working rights and to hear the working experiences of colleagues related to LGBT+ issues. During 2019 the group launched the NHS Rainbow Badges which are a commitment to creating an inclusive environment for colleagues and patients. 1,387 colleagues have committed to wearing a badge.

We are piloting reverse mentoring with the aim of board members becoming mentees to better understand the diversity issues experienced by colleagues within our trust. The aim is to lead to prompt challenging and insightful conversations to promote awareness of equality and influence meaningful understanding of the lived experience of colleagues.

There has been a significant shift in our approach to inclusion in the last year. Whilst we continue to ensure we adhere to national requirements relating to equality legislation, it is vital that we develop an inclusive culture where all colleagues are able to thrive and be the best that they can be. Our priority work will be to continue supporting the development of the networks and to encourage all board members to really consider their development and involvement in this area.