(Image by Avila Chidume)
Growing up in London, I was fortunate enough to experience and appreciate a multicultural
city with friends from diverse backgrounds. Now, as a healthcare worker in the UK, I see
first-hand the variety of patients who present to our care services whether in hospital or out
in the community. I have found several benefits from having a diverse workforce in
healthcare and I want to share that with you. I hope this will encourage people to embrace
seeing different cultures in the workplace and remove the negative stigma that is
sometimes associated with BAME staff.
Firstly, having a diverse workforce is a more realistic depiction of the world we ACTUALLY
live in. We cannot ignore that people identify with a range of cultures, religions, genders,
and sexual orientations etc. Therefore, diverse representation would allow us to have a
better understanding of these differences and gain perspectives from other standpoints.
Leading on from this, representation in healthcare is necessary to make effective changes to
the relevant groups affected. Thereby saying, the people who have experienced the issues
which negatively impact them, are often the best people to suggest which interventions
would benefit them in this area. For example, when looking at the rates of maternal deaths
among black women in the UK, it is important to speak to black women as this is the group
who can address their experiences, with aims to improve it.
This reinforces the need for diversity in all levels of work, including the decision-making
roles. So along with diversity, inclusivity also needs to be present to ensure the right voices
are heard especially during matters pertaining to their needs and welfare.
Furthermore, diversity can aid with language barriers. Healthcare professionals who are
bilingual or even multilingual are an incredible asset when it comes to supporting the care
needs of patients who may speak limited to no English. It demonstrates that cultural
differences can in fact bring us together in a way that is positive- and we need to see it
Finally, consider the positive reinforcement that a person from an underrepresented group
gets when they see people from similar backgrounds in positions of authority or
management. Findings from the CIPD (2017) show that BAME employees, regardless of
ethnicity are more likely to report that seeing someone who resembles them progress
within their organisation, would help to enhance their own careers. This form of motivation
through role models can play a key role in reminding us to have high ambitions because
they are attainable!
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog on the benefits of diversity and inclusivity in the
workplace from a healthcare perspective and hope you can take away something positive
Written by Kaira Iloanya
Chartered institute of personnel and development CIPD ‘Addressing the barriers to
BAME employee career progression to the top’.