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BAME network host 'Standing in our shoes' event with CNWL Chief Executive and Chair

14 March 2019

Our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Staff Network welcomed Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive and Professor Dorothy Griffiths, CNWL Chair for an afternoon conversation of ‘Standing in our shoes’ last week.

Staff were encouraged to have questions ready to ask our most senior leaders during the Q&A session, who shared thoughts and issues openly.

Kathy writes her question

Topics discussed included BAME representation on interview panels, staff safety, unconscious bias and career and training development.

The Trust currently has BAME representatives on Band 8b interview panels, an initiative the network were interested in developing over the next year.

Claire said: “I embrace it, I think its brilliant, you (the BAME network) keep making good suggestions and we’ll keep acting on them. As we train more interviewers we’ll go onto 8a.”

BAME Co-Chairs, Ela Pathak-Sen and Manpareet Dhaliwal responded with their aims for the network to support this.

Dot, CNWL Chair (left) and Claire , CNWL CEO (right) take questions from the audience

Ela said: “It’s about cultural change, it’s not about fighting back, it’s about beginning to engage and having that conversation, open up a dialogue with that person and it begin to try and understand.

Manpareet added the importance of having the interviewee feel comfortable.

She said: “It’s about educating people, it’s about the person sitting in front of you. If you can see a mirror image, you will be at your best. It’s about making someone feel comfortable in the room so they can show you their true colours, their best selves. It’s not putting someone at an advantage; it’s just giving them that confidence. It’s not because the Trust is trying to tick a box, the reason is so you can bring the best out in somebody.”

Dot highlighted how our current development programmes will be reviewed. CNWL run a mentoring programme for BAME staff ‘Developing Diverse Leaders’.

Bianca takes part in the Q&A session

“The Trust has lots and lots of development programmes and I think we have too many and therefore you can’t see your path through them, whoever you are. I think we need fewer development programmes, more clearly focused so that when a person starts in this Trust they can see their path of development through a series of programmes.”

Ebrima Sonko from the CNWL Patient and Carer Involvement Team asked Dot and Claire about staff safety.

Ebrima addresses the issue of staff safety

Their shared response explained how current work is being done to make sure staff are reading policies and are working safely in teams and lone working in the community.

“We think it’s an important issue, we’re all concerned about it. So for us, there is something we need to do to reinvigorate our thinking in the context of changing society. How we keep ourselves safe, how we keep a therapeutic and open service, and still keep our staff safe.  We have to create an environment and culture where we can talk about it.”

Ela added how people from a BAME background can experience aggression and violence: “Sometimes it is at low level, sometimes its high level but just to be aware when you are making those decisions is important.”

Meera talks about BAME recruitment panels

Claire and Dot encouraged everyone to ‘be proud of your Trust and be proud of your team, working together we can achieve so much more. It’s event like these that brings idea and issues out in the open to achieve better things.”