This year's diversity and inclusion conference, The Inclusive Revolution was held on 21 September. Oyebanji (Banji) Adewumi, associate director of inclusion at Barts Health NHS Trust, reflects on a memorable day.
The Oxford dictionary definition of revolution: 'A dramatic and wide reaching change in conditions, attitudes, or operations.' This year’s diversity and inclusion conference lived up to its theme in a big way - an inclusive revolution indeed.
Listening to feedback from some colleagues during the tea break, we agreed the first session The view from the top was a transforming moment, with a clear call to hold the mirror up to ourselves. Listening to five NHS chief executives (yes, they all turned up) talk about what makes an inclusive organisation, was evidence to me that there is hope for the NHS. This hope has since been strengthened with news of the first black minority and ethnic chief executive appointment in London. Change can happen and is happening. For a start, having NHS chief executives attend a diversity conference was a clear message, signalling commitment from the top, the line up was visibly diverse, which I also found encouraging. Each of the speakers spoke from the heart.
Memorable quotes include:
Danny Mortimer, chief executive, NHS Employers “Inclusion is about valuing difference.”
Tracy Myhill, chief executive, Welsh Ambulance Service “Go look, go listen, don’t wait for someone to come to you.”
Alwen Williams, chief executive CEO, Barts Health NHS Trust “For a supportive culture, a whole portfolio of intervention is required.”
Academics and number-crunching colleagues would have enjoyed listening to Michelle Tuckey present evidence from Australia on bullying at work, and bullying prevention. Her words 'stressful working conditions are associated with greater exposure to bullying' and 'bullying is the symptom not the disease to be treated' struck me - WOW! This is a truth that needs to be shared, reflected on and considered by each NHS trust. Thanks Dr Tuckey for establishing the role of psychosocial safety climate in coping with workplace bulling, indeed we do need to make and build resilient systems.
Moving on swiftly, I would say we were treated to a polite telling off by Dan Robertson from the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. Dan made it clear to all that leadership is a privilege. He asked “why should anyone be led by you?”, and went on to say “our cognitive biases mean we gravitate towards similarity, we follow trends and patterns and desire to conform.” That is another moment I will not forget, thank you Dan for telling us as it is. We all needed to hear those words and it is my hope that transformation took place in the room on that day that will have a ripple effect on all. Dan finished by highlighting the fact that commonness leads to comfort which leads to trust and some people being seen as more competent, the insider - outsider dynamics. Listening to Dan I asked myself, how does the privilege of insider dynamics play out in my trust? Ask yourself the same question.
By lunch it was evident to me that indeed there had been a revolution, a transformation and a change in ways of thinking. This was beautifully demonstrated after lunch with an innovative and creative performance by all, bringing the learning to life.
Who would believe a diversity and inclusion conference could include mini musicals with news readers, reporters and script writers? This one did, from Rambo and Phantom of the Opera, to The Wizard of Oz and The Single Chair. There was laughter and tears (of joy), noise and silence, light and a bit of darkness and lots of networking and tweeting (check out #InclusiveNHS). I didn’t realise how fast time went by, there was so much creativity, enthusiasm and talent in the room, it was amazing.
Each of the participating teams deserved a medal, scripts were written based on a combination of lived experience of bullying and what had been witnessed in our trusts. It was sad that stories did not have to be made up, they were real stories. Stories that brought the pain of someone you and I know to life, a powerful tool to drive change.
The inclusive revolution is happening now and I’m glad I’m part of it, what about you? I’m already looking forward to the next conference, roll on 2017, let’s all make it a date. I had a great time and I am summing it up with three words #Fun #Fab #Phenomenal.