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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway

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NELFT named in the Top 20 of Inclusive UK Employers

NELFT has been placed at number 19 in this year’s Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers. The award was announced on Thursday November 30 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester and saw NELFT as the only Trust in the south east of England to make the Top 50 and one of only two NHS organisations in the Top 20.

The Inclusive Top 50 is a list of UK-based employers that showcases organisations that are already performing at a high standard in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion. The list also highlights organisations that are effectively making changes which will allow them to become an inclusive employer in its entirety and shines a light on best practice across all strands of diversity including age, disability, gender, LGBT, race, faith and religion.

Compiled by a dedicated panel of judges, the list has been collated based on each organisation’s performance in a range of areas within the diversity arena. Those employers featured provided sufficient evidence on an amalgamation of topics including recruitment procedures, training and a host of diversity related initiatives.

On hearing about NELFT’s Top 20 placement, we spoke to the Equality and Diversity Manager Harjit K Bansal about the award and what benefit diversity brings to the organisation:

NELFT has been highlighted once again for its work on diversity – how did you feel when you heard we had made the Top 20 organisations?

I felt proud that the Trust has been recognised for the work that we have undertaken on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. NELFT strives to eliminate discrimination at all levels, and in every aspect of work. We try to ensure that all staff have equal access to training, promotion, and other initiatives, and that we engage with our local communities, and our patients and service users, to improve how we deliver services.

The Top 20 recognition is a reward for the Trust for making a difference and ensuring, equality, equity and fairness for all. We still have work that needs to be done; but this award shows that we are being recognised nationally for the hard work that has already been undertaken.   

What are the benefits of the Trust working for greater diversity?

Foremost is that the Trust is seen as being reflective of the community it serves. There is also evidence to suggest that staff want to come and work in an organisation that is open and honest, and therefore attracts people to apply for jobs. If employees working for NELFT feel they are part of an inclusive organisation, then patients have better outcomes. The Trust has various networks in place; disability staff network, ethnic minority staff network, LGBT network, dyslexia staff network and WoMen’s network, and we are in the process of setting up a mental health forum, to address key issues affecting staff at work. Employees hopefully see the Trust as a supportive organisation and that equality and diversity is embedded in everything the organisation does.

Why do you believe that NELFT has been successful at improving diversity?

There are a few reasons why NELFT has been so successful. The Trust leadership have diversity at the top of the agenda. Senior management continually make reference, whenever they speak at events, to equality, diversity and inclusion for staff and patients. 

Secondly, that there are clear governance structures where the work of equality and diversity is monitored e.g. Board, Trust E & D Meeting and SLTs where equality and diversity is now a standing agenda item.

Thirdly, staff engagement and celebrations of various events e.g. International Women’s Day, London Pride, Black History Month and celebrating various religious festivals. We continually look at sharing stories of staff working in NELFT and celebrating their contributions to the NHS. 

Fourthly, as well as ensuring compliance with various legislations and mandatory frameworks; NELFT also implements its own Ethnic Minority Staff Network Strategy - which is a five-year plan.

And finally, we are also very good at sharing good practice, and have done so with various trusts, including private sector organisations and being recognised for our work nationally.

To read about the Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers, click on their website at: http://inclusivetop50.co.uk/

For more information about the NELFT staff networks, visit the website page at: www.nelft.nhs.uk/about-us-staff-networks