Sarah Ash, Subject Advisor for Health and Social Care
It’s International Women’s Day on 8 March and the theme this year is Embrace Equity. In this blog I celebrate the work of women in the health and care sector who have been actively campaigning for equity in the workplace.
The words equity and equality are often used interchangeably. As the IWD website explains, there can be a significant difference between the two words. Equality means each giving everybody the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognises that each individual has different circumstances and needs, and makes sure they are given the opportunities they need to reach an equal outcome.
Equity is one of the values that underpin how people work in health and social care – values that support a personal, fair and diverse health system. Women represent a high percentage of employees throughout the health and social care sector but statistics show that ethnic minority women are under-represented across many senior roles, as well as on lower pay. This article from the NHS Confederation highlights some of the inequalities in the sector, in particular the lack of representation of ethnic minority women in managerial roles and pay differentials.
In my research I learnt about Morvia Gooden who has worked in the NHS for 30 years. Movia, who started her career as a qualified nurse and midwife, worked as a project worker for HIV/AIDS in the black community in Nottingham, where she had responsibility for promoting sexual health. In this role she set up and developed several new services focussed specifically on young people.
Impressed by her commitment to bring resources and support to deprived areas, the NHS appointed her as Senior Programme Lead for Inclusion at the NHS Leadership Academy. In this role she is taking a proactive approach to ensure a fair and equitable working environment throughout the health service. She’s committed to developing a diverse workforce and helping practitioners to share learning about inclusion.
I was drawn to the blog written by Joan Saddler OBE about inequality in the NHS workforce and the work of the Workforce Race Equality Standard Report in highlighting the lack of opportunities for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff. Especially because there is research which tells us that patients have better recovery rates when cared for by people who they believe represent themselves.
Joan Saddler is doing her part to redress the balance in her role as Director of Partnership and Equality in the NHS Confederation. Through her work and her blogs she is raising awareness of the need for equity, as well as being a valuable role model.
One of the key values that we teach about in health and social care is communication. It is vital for staff to be able to communicate effectively with patients and clients from a range of cultures and backgrounds. In her blog for the British Medical Journal, Dr Gloria Likupe says that communication is central to successful caring relationships and that nurses are pivotal to patients having a positive experience. Nurses need to have the skills to care for patients of different cultures, which means being aware of stereotypes and prejudice to provide individualised care.
The three women whose stories I have shared are trying to improve equity in the workplace as well as making us aware of the importance of positive caring experiences for patients. Through their work and their example, they show the importance of having a workforce that is valued through equitable pay and career development opportunities, and who can represent the diverse community they care for. Do you have any other stories you’d like to share?
Share your thought in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at OCRHealthandSocialCare@ocr.org.uk, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_Health. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Sarah joined OCR as a subject advisor in 2018. During her time with us she has supported centres with their queries, attended network meetings and contributed to the production of a number of resources. She has also been involved in the redevelopment of Cambridge Nationals in Health and Social Care and Child Development and is currently working as part of the team redeveloping Cambridge Technicals. Before joining OCR Sarah was a teacher of Health and Social Care and a moderator.