Diversity in digital leadership: Representation is key to improving quality of care

13 May 2021

NHS leaders emphasise how important diversity is to getting the digital agenda right at trusts, and its role in leading to better outcomes for patients and improving quality of care.

In the third episode of NHS Providers' Digital Boards podcast series, Digital Boards: Lessons from diverse leadership, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, is joined by Dr Shera Chok, who is co-founder and chair of Shuri Network, deputy chief medical officer at NHS Digital, and national clinical advisor on system transformation at NHS England and NHS Improvement, Patricia Miller OBE, the chief executive at Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust and board director for NHS Race and Health Observatory, and Andy Callow, the group chief digital information officer at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust. They discussed why representation matters in digital and across wider services, what practical steps boards should be taking to improve diversity, and the importance of inclusivity in the recruitment process.

They observe that diversity is as important in digital as it is other parts of the NHS' work. The diversity of the workforce and wider communities is not represented adequately in its leadership, and the effect of this can be that digital products and services are shaped through a biased 'single lens'. To progress the national digital agenda, conversations have to happen at all levels, including with staff, patients and their families about what they need and experience, to strengthen the starting position of understanding.

Other topics covered in the podcast include:


All three leaders express how important representation is in progressing cultural change within the NHS. Patricia Miller says how organisations recruit, such as the language used in adverts, where advertisements are placed, the make-up of the interview panel and the organisation's board, heavily impacts the recruitment process. Andy Callow observes that those in leadership positions should display cultural competency, including being able to have uncomfortable conversations around race, in the same way they would be expected to display technical ability. To improve diversity, they recommend trust leaders consider proactive collaboration, reverse mentoring, shadowing opportunities, critical thinking and creating a vision of what the future looks like, using digital to build a better NHS.

Notes

Below is a list of some important books on racial equality as recommended by our speakers, Dr Shera Chok, Andy Callow and Patricia Miller OBE:

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