As social care providers, we are hard-wired to understand different needs and create an environment that enables the people we support and our colleagues, to live their best life.
In fact, our charity was built on an ethos of inclusivity – it’s what we do – so it’s really important that we ensure we are doing it right because we know that an equal, diverse and inclusive workplace delivers huge benefits both to individuals and the organisation as a whole
That’s why Community Integrated Care decided to look more closely at its ED&I performance in May 2020, as tragic world events shone a spotlight on equality and inclusion. After all, like most care sector providers, Community Integrated Care has a richly diverse workforce which is mainly women, has a higher than average proportion of Black, Asian or minority ethnic colleagues and also has a higher than average age profile – groups which can experience discrimination.
So we decided to ensure that how we operated was truly inclusive to ensure that our workforce not only felt seen, heard and understood but that we could in turn understand how to actively enrich their experience and create a genuine culture of belonging and psychological safety.
The first step was to publicly commit to a complete review of our Diversity and Inclusion approach. This initially involved surveying our 6000-strong workforce but we also engaged an essential external perspective in the form of the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) who undertook a diversity audit. This audit covered every aspect of the charity from our strategy, leadership and recruitment activities to how we engage and communicate internally and externally and even procure goods and services. As the leading employer network for all things diversity, they helped us to understand how we measured up next to a recognised D&I standard, where we could improve and what we needed to do to move forwards. Using surveys, focus groups and 1-2-1 interviews, we engaged with 50% of the workforce – a really great sample that we knew would deliver data that truly represented our colleague profile.
‘A Place I Belong’ is the plan that came out of that process and delivered a high level of reassurance that we were already doing a lot that made a difference for our people. But we also identified with ENEI’s help a number of areas where we could improve if we wanted to realise our ambitions to become leaders at ED&I – and a truly great place to work – within our sector and beyond.
Eighteen months on and we have already achieved so much of what we set out to do. My own appointment as the Wellbeing, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for the charity – one of the key recommendations from the audit – is speeding up the practical implementation of many of the commitments we made to continuously improve our support for our workforce.
We recently established Colleague Inclusion Networks which provide a forum for different groups to come together to drive the changes they wish to see and be an integral part of that process. The networks include Black and Minority Ethnic, LGBTQIA+, Disability & Neurodiversity and Women. And, whilst men are not seen as a marginalised group, the establishment of a men’s colleague inclusion network has already seen information campaigns around men’s health and well-being. Overall, the inclusion networks are raising awareness and helping staff to enjoy a happier work life.
The pay back for the charity is of course a happier, more productive workforce who are proud to work for our charity, choose to stay with us for a long time, and would recommend us to others as a great place to work. Given the current recruitment and retention challenges the sector faces, this can only be a positive thing.