NELFT has been included on the 2017 list of Inclusive Top 50 UK Organisations | News and events

NELFT has been included on the 2017 list of Inclusive Top 50 UK Organisations | News and events

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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 has been included on the 2017 list of Inclusive Top 50 UK Organisations

NELFT has been included in this year’s Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers. It is a list of UK-based organisations that promote inclusion across all protected diversity characteristics, throughout each level of employment within their organisation.

The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers, empowered by The Excellence in Diversity Awards, covers all the strands of diversity including age, disability, gender, LGBT and race.

As well as showcasing organisations that are already performing at a high standard in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion, The Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List also highlights organisations that are effectively making changes which will allow them to become an inclusive employer in its entirety.

The Excellence in Diversity Awards takes place on Thursday November 30 at the Midland Hotel in Manchester and NELFT’s position in the Top 50 will be unveiled.

We spoke to the Equality and Diversity Manager Harjit K Bansal about the accolade and how diversity is benefitting the organisation:

NELFT has been highlighted again for its work on diversity – how did you feel when you heard we had made the Top 50 organisations?

I felt proud of the achievements made in this field and the Trust being recognised for the work that I and my team have undertaken on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. I remember taking on the role of Equality and Diversity Manager in 2010, and thinking it was a huge challenge, because the agenda was very broad and challenging. It was complex, difficult to embed at every level within the organisation; with limited resources and a small budget. In addition to that, I recall that the Trust was unclear as to where the leadership for this portfolio lay and what would be the best fit for me. However, that did not deter me, as I had a job to do in order to evidence the Trust’s compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and settling as a key member of the HR and OD directorate has enabled me to focus on delivering that agenda.

Secondly, I have a real passion for the agenda, I really want to eliminate discrimination at all levels, and in every aspect of work, ensure all staff have equal access to training, promotion, and other initiatives, and that we engage with our local communities and our patients to improve how we deliver services. I feel that the Trust and I are being rewarded for making a difference and ensuring, equality, equity and fairness for all. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done; this is just the beginning of that journey.    

What do you believe is the reason(s) that NELFT has been so successful at improving diversity?

There are a few reasons why NELFT has been so successful; firstly it is the leadership and ownership of the agenda at the top.  Every speech or presentation made by Joe Fielder (the Chair of the Trust), John Brouder (Chief Executive), Bob Champion (Executive Director of  Workforce), with whom this agenda sits, and the Executive Management Team, make reference 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. It is Men’s International Day on November 19, and I will be looking at sharing stories of staff working in NELFT and celebrating their contributions to the NHS. 

Fourthly, the Trust’s compliance with various legislations and mandatory frameworks; including, the Equality Act 2010, Equality Delivery System 2, Accessible Information Standards, Disability Confidence Organisation, Forward Working (supporting women back to work), and the implementation of our own Ethnic Minority Staff Network Strategy (which is a 5-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.

What do you think is the main benefit 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 staff working in NELFT feel they are part of an inclusive organisation, then patients have better outcomes. The Trust has various networks in place; ethnic minority staff network, disability staff network, dyslexia staff network and WoMen’s network, LGBT Network and in the process of setting up a mental health forum, to address key issues affecting staff at work: we are seen as a supportive organisation - and that equality and diversity is embedded in everything the organisation does.

Thanks to Harjit for providing us with her thoughts. For more information about the NELFT staff networks, visit their website page at: www.nelft.nhs.uk/about-us-staff-networks