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This guide is published in partnership with Anton Emmanuel

Head of Workforce Race Equality Standard
NHS England

NHS Providers member insight found that trust boards experience frustration in trying to achieve sustainable change in race equality in representation. There is a recognised need for wider understanding and shared learning of the evidence base for successful high impact interventions to diversify senior leadership and wider recruitment practices. The purpose of this guide is to support trusts to design effective action plans to show sustainable improvement in their Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) indicators and advance race equality in their organisations.

Recruitment and talent management are integral tools to creating a diverse workplace and can also be used to promote inclusive practices more widely. WRES indicators 1, 2 and 9 reflect recruitment and talent management improvements, while indicator 7, derived from NHS Staff Survey responses, reflect the perception of employees of provider commitment to equality in employment. It is important to supplement indicator 7 with provider-based research into employee experience to get nuanced data on the experiences of specific professional groups and specific ethnicities. This can support targeted interventions.

What you will learn

This guide is informed by the publication, No more tick boxes: a review on the evidence on how to make recruitment and career progression fairer and its summary on inclusive recruitment and talent management. It also considers evidence from trusts that have seen sustainable improvement in race equality.

The insight, case studies and resources referenced within this guide are intended to equip trust leaders with the knowledge and understanding of how they can debias every stage of the recruitment and talent management process. The guide also provides examples of positive action practices which have supported organisations to successfully advance race equality.

No more tick boxes highlights eight key principles to deliver race equality in recruitment and talent management:

  1. focus interventions on debiasing systems and processes
  2. integrate accountability in the behaviours and actions of individuals
  3. leadership is crucial to sustainable change in organisational culture, practice, process and motivation for change
  4. a clear and transparent narrative is essential to convey the importance of addressing inequities in recruitment, talent development, career progression and retention
  5. positive action can be helpful in addressing targeted areas and can be used to progressively change institutional practice when supported by policy and process overhaul
  6. inspiring positive changes in the work climate is especially important
  7. improved representation is crucial but without inclusion it will not be sustainable
  8. tackling individual bias within the interview process alone will not achieve change.

These eight areas align with NHS Providers' recommended key requirements for meaningful change:

  • creating hearts and minds change - fostering safe spaces and authentic forums for discussion to challenge mindsets and share learning
  • increasing confidence and capability to act - by bringing attention to good practice case studies including evidence of high impact interventions from within the NHS as well as evidence of what has worked in other sectors
  • taking accountability - supporting governors and boards to ask key assurance questions on race equality to help embed race equality as a core part of board business, reducing the double burden on ethnic minority board members of championing race equality whilst also experiencing discrimination, strengthening accountability and proactively calling out discrimination at a national level.

It is recommended that providers use internal data sets, organisation specific reports provided by the NHS England WRES team and lived experience of employees via staff networks and unions to support the identification and development of improvement aims, targets and measures. Once these have been agreed this guide can support identification of planned actions.

At all stages, interactions and policy development of recruitment and talent processes, Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) should be conducted to identify gaps, determine the use of resources and embed equity. It will also help decision-makers improve their understanding and confidence about embedding equality in their thinking, meetings and planning sessions. There is evidence that EIAs can improve decision-making and understanding of discrimination in recruitment processes. For example, a research study conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that EIAs resulted in better recruitment decisions, as well as a greater understanding of the potential for discrimination in recruitment processes. Furthermore, EIAs had a positive impact on the recruitment process's fairness and transparency and improved diversity among the successful candidates, with more candidates from minority backgrounds being appointed. Providers should also recognise that the legal and reputational risks posed by potential discrimination in the recruitment process can be significant and conducting an EIA is important to demonstrate that a lawful process has been followed and proportionate interventions have been considered.