Last week we celebrated Equality, Diversity and Human Rights week. Kenny Naughton, Deputy Care Group Manager for Medicine, shares his thoughts on the reasons equality, diversity and inclusion is important to him and what he does in his role to support EDI.
As a senior manager working in a large and diverse workplace it is important that we ensure we enable opportunities for those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Being a straight, white male it can feel a bit uncomfortable raising and discussing these issues from my. =. However, I do think it’s within everyone’s interests to start to feel comfortable having conversations in teams and highlighting the benefits of diversity, and also the challenges that individuals may face.
Women in management
I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best female managers in my career with many still playing a mentorship role with me. Early in my operational management career I didn’t want some incredible, emerging leaders to miss out on opportunities whilst wanting to be part-time. I’m pleased to say, across the medicine care group we have a number of operational managers that provide an excellent service to teams whilst still working part-time. I know this is difficult to apply to all roles Trust-wide, but we should normalise and encourage flexible/part-time working to support a well-balanced life and to help bridge the gap with home commitments for all. This is a key commitment as part of the Trust’s People Plan around flexible working.
We have recently recruited 30 International Medical Graduates (IMGs) junior doctors. I confess, our induction and welcoming could have been better. However, we did learn from this and have since commissioned an IMG specific induction pack which is externally led by a company of junior doctors. This recognises that colleagues have uprooted their lives to come to live in Plymouth and we really want to have a long-term working relationship with them. Alongside this we have also recruited 10 Internal Medicine consultants internationally. Again, we have sought to go the extra mile in our management teams by helping with sourcing housing and giving time to get used to new systems. We can really celebrate strength in diversity within this team and we are lucky that we have excellent international leaders such as Dr Boey now heading up the team. Within Cardiology I have had the pleasure of working with two of the best clinical directors both of whom are from ethnically diverse backgrounds. In the coming years, I hope to see support for encouraging clinical leaders such as these into senior medical leadership posts.
The past few years, and even before COVID-19 the hospital has been under unrelenting pressure. I cannot say how proud I have felt working for an organisation that continues to rise to the challenges of providing safe care to patients within the emergency care pathway or through our elective outpatient departments. This pressure does reach a point which can tip into burnout for many staff.
Whilst there isn’t a magic wand we can wave to sort some of the challenges we face, as leaders, we can remember to be compassionate and ensure that individuals feel comfortable coming forward to ask for our support. There are really great occupational health services on offer to colleagues- recently a colleague that is going through a challenging time actually commented how relieved they felt after the first meeting with OH. As leaders we need to support people doing difficult roles, make them feel valued and offer some hope with the plans that we have in place to address these issues.
I wanted to highlight that within the management team I’ve worked with over a number of years, we have recruited individuals that are service users within the services they manage. They bring passion, commitment and a grounding that only those that truly understand what patients have been through. Whilst these individuals would have had periods of time off due to sickness from the conditions, the services would be worse off without having them in the positions they currently hold. So for me this was a reminder that those with disabilities can bring a wealth of value to services and should be encouraged and supported to progress in their careers.
I learned last year through a colleague how incredibly uncomfortable both physically and mentally going through the menopause can be. I have a colleague that confided in me after going through gynae surgery and immediately plunged into the menopause how hard it is getting back to the level of work that she was at before. It made me think how many women must be going through this difficult time and how environmental factors in the work can make a big difference. We did make some environmental changes to make the working area better and she also noted how groups such as the Menopause café was really good. The Menopause café is run by colleagues in the Trust to help take this agenda forward and offer guidance and support for anyone going through this. As leaders we should recognise if an individual is going through the menopause that this can really alter someone’s state and wellbeing. Again, we must be compassionate and seek out individual support.
As leaders we must strive to be more inclusive and this can range from ensuring gender balanced interview panels to an individual’s compassion for colleagues. It can feel a bit uneasy to talk about at first but this shouldn’t stop us taking this agenda forward. One of the biggest factors to enable this change is creating a climate in which individuals and teams feel encouraged and included to seek out senior roles or to put their hand up if they are struggling. It is a key responsibility for all leaders, at all levels to create this climate.