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Black History Month: reflecting on our responsibilities

During Black History Month, and spurred on by the tragic circumstances of George Floyd’s and others’ untimely deaths, we at the Authority are reflecting on our responsibilities to promote equality, and to support and celebrate diversity and inclusion.

What 2020 has made clear is that it is not enough to simply condemn racism, we must actively strive to co-create a positive and inclusive culture. At our regulatory symposium next month, we will be discussing together with the regulators we oversee, whether regulation ‘is too white’ and considering the evidence and experience of regulators, ourselves and others. The regulators we oversee have been considering this and some have already published studies, with the GMC publishing their Fair to refer report last year to understand why employers and healthcare providers are more likely to refer doctors who are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and those who obtained their primary medical qualification outside the UK. The NMC are building on findings from their 2017 report in this area, with a new project to research how protected characteristics including ethnicity can affect access, experiences and outcomes for professionals going through their regulatory processes.

At the Authority, one of our core values is transparency. We wouldn’t be true to this value if we were not also willing to examine and challenge our own performance.

While it’s true that we do have a focus on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), we know we can always improve. We have therefore established an EDI project to be supported by an experienced advisor in this area to review our policies and processes, and to provide an independent, expert focus on assessing the Authority’s work and to give us advice on good practice. As part of personal learning and reflection, the project group promotes the sharing of materials and resources, and plans to engage in regular discussion groups.

Earlier this year, we also held unconscious bias training, although it is important to acknowledge that unconscious bias is not something that is quickly remedied – training is just the start of a continual process of enhancing self-awareness and unlearning prejudice. We also recently held a workshop with our staff to explore vulnerability. One of the three strategic objectives in our Stakeholder Engagement Strategy published last month is to focus regulatory attention appropriately on protection of the most vulnerable, including within standards, guidance, education and training, and fitness to practise.

In everything we do going forward, we will consider how we might contribute to improving equality and diversity, and act on it. Collectively, we all have a duty to ensure that we identify and eradicate discrimination and work together to ensure that there is positive change. We will be thinking hard about what we can do to better promote equality, diversity and inclusion for all staff; and observing what other organisations are doing in order to learn and improve. 

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Please note the views expressed in these blogs are those of the individual bloggers and do not necessarily reflect those of the Professional Standards Authority.