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Why equality, diversity and inclusion must be at the forefront of a happy and healthy workplace

Tricia Pereira., Director of Operations, Skills for Care

Throughout June Skills for Care is focusing on supporting social care providers to create a happy and healthy workplace. Director of Operations Tricia Pereira discusses why equality, diversity and inclusion must be a priority for any wellbeing strategy.

I’m delighted that Skills for Care is placing a focus this month on wellbeing, specifically on the concept of creating a happy and healthy workplace. The past two years have brought unparalleled challenges for the social care sector and have undoubtedly taken their toll on the people who work across care. This is evident in the recruitment and retention challenges which we know employers are currently facing, and can be seen via our most recent Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS) data.

Data also tells us that people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds were more significantly impacted by COVID-19, with death rates highest among people from black and Asian backgrounds. We also know from research that we carried out during the pandemic that many people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds working in social care experience discrimination and a lack of progression opportunities.

This was reinforced during my experience chairing the BAME Communities Advisory Group which was one of eight advisory groups to the Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce.  I heard directly from people who draw on social care and support and from people who work in social care, as they shared their experiences of how the pandemic has directly affected them.

This is why equality, equity, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Skills for Care’s work through June to support in creating happy and healthy workplaces, where workers feel valued, and why it must be a priority in any wellbeing strategy.

In order to create a workplace where people can flourish, be happy, and do their best work, we must create a culture of belonging, where people can bring their true and authentic self to work. This must be embedded into the values which underpin an organisation and demonstrated in the reality of the day-to-day work.

Providers have also highlighted to us the importance of compassionate and considerate leadership, which is fundamentally about understanding the different needs and experiences of the people in your team and treating everyone as individuals

Promoting and developing a leadership model in social care where leaders (amongst other things) empathise, take time to understand peoples situations, their struggles, and frustrations, listen to their challenges, and enable supportive workplace cultures which empower workers and provides them with safe spaces and resources to have productive conversations about race and equality, is crucial.

We are doing work at Skills for Care to support this, and we have a series of videos discussing compassionate leadership in practice on our website.

As well as our compassionate leadership support, we continue to work closely with people from diverse backgrounds to provide support for social care providers to foster positive and inclusive workplace cultures.

One of the long-term strategic aims is that there is equity among everybody working in social care, so that people feel included and valued for the work they do and are motivated to stay working in the sector, having the choice to develop and progress in their careers.

Our well-established  and successful ‘Moving up’ programme supports leaders from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds to take the next step in their learning and development and progressing their career, while our new ‘Forefront programme’ is aimed at people working in direct care roles and supports them in taking the first step in their leadership journey.

We have also been working on the development of the Social Care Workforce Race Equality Standard (SC-WRES), which is a standardised set of measures to monitor progress and drive up standards and practice across the sector with respect to the experiences of black and minority ethnic staff.

This is a really positive step forward in taking an actionable and measurable approach to managing equality, diversity, and inclusion.

At a time when the whole world has faced so much turmoil and unrest, prioritising the wellbeing of ourselves, our colleagues and our teams has never been more important, and it is something which employees should quite rightly expect from their employer.

It’s clear that must include a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion in all wellbeing activity to create a workplace where everyone can belong and be happy and healthy together.

Find more wellbeing support on our spotlight page: https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/happyhealthyworkplace

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