Blog post

Using the Electronic Staff Record to access workforce diversity data

Harjit Bansal from North East London Foundation Trust, blogs about using ESR to better understand the diverse makeup of her local workforce.

6 July 2020


  • Harjit Bansal External link icon Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at North East London Foundation Trust

Harjit is head of equality, diversity and inclusion at North East London Foundation Trust and also sits on the NHS Staff Council Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group.

It was two years ago that I discovered ESR. The system had all the data I required to run my equality, diversity and inclusion reports and all I needed was permission from my manager to assess it. As I’m not a HR member of staff, I am restricted to what I have access to as the head of equality, diversity and inclusion - HR has access to much more. Once I had permission and access to the section called business intelligence, there was no stopping me! Work began on scrutinising data to support the organisation to explore where the gaps were and any gaps in data being uploaded - a system is only as good as the information that is fed into it.

Impressively at present ESR holds 1.85 million staff records across the NHS. Staff who have access to this system within my organisation do not use it effectively and I decided it was time to take some action.

An ESR task and finish group was created, Alice Sorby, co-chair of the pan London Equality and Diversity Group and Paul Deemer at NHS Employers were pivotal in setting-up the group, supported by Kieron Walsh from ESR.

The objectives of the group were to look at:

  • what functionality was already available
  • how easy and accessible the system was
  • how the system could be improved and developed further
  • how we could promote it.

We realised that staff did not know where to find equality information on ESR, so we are working with the ESR national team to develop some guidance. This is especially important, as now more than ever, organisations are expected to be more transparent on their data, to understand who works for them, what the workforce looks like in terms of diversity and to assess the skills of staff. It will also help us to understand what bands and professional groups have high and low percentages overall in the trust. All this data can then support the workforce strategy, in terms of how you develop it and improve its implementation.

ESR reports can be run on a quarterly or monthly basis, data can be gathered for the Workforce Race Equality Standard, Workforce Disability Equality Standard, gender pay gap, recruitment data, sickness, new starters, leavers, employee relation cases and you can break these down by diversity. As an example, we used ESR data to help inform the North East London Foundation Trust annual report

I have asked for additional information to be run from ESR and am working with the ESR team to develop this, I’m also exploring how we can produce intersectionality reports, for example not just gender pay gap, but ethnicity pay gaps and LGBT+ pay gaps.

So, what are you waiting for? Why not organise some training and start using the new and improved version of ESR, spread the word.

Further information 

Access guidance on how to improve staff disability data.