Why I got involved with the EDI Member Reference Group?
Being female and of Asian background within the NHS, renders individuals such as myself, at risk of certain disadvantage, for example being less likely to be appointed or promoted to senior positions, or facing gender pay-gap discrepancies. International medical graduates; those of other ethnicities or disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds; people with disabilities or certain sexual or gender orientations; and many others, are too, continually confronted with a plethora of employment disparities and unconscious bias within the NHS on a daily basis.
The COVID-19 pandemic, although struck many lives, disproportionately affected those from Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. It was a stark and harsh reminder, that these long-standing issues of inequality, not only ripples through our NHS working lives, but is deep-rooted within our wider society - the very communities that homes the children and young people we strive to serve within our paediatric care.
Addressing these issues has never been more relevant, with an urgent need for effective change required. This year more than ever had me asking: what could I do to make a change?
The RCPCH with its members and responsibilities for child health in the UK and globally, recognised and embraced its integral role in championing values of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). To help best guide them in this process, they wanted to hear real opinions and thoughts directly from their paediatric workforce, and in August 2020 made a call for volunteers to join their EDI member reference group that would help work on four workstreams: ‘working lives of paediatricians’, ‘volunteering and awards’, ‘health outcomes for children and young people’, and ‘our College’.
Working with this team became an exciting opportunity to be a part of the change that we want to see
With their pledged commitments of, ‘Be Accountable, Be a Voice For Change, Continue to engage deeply and widely’, to me, working with this team became an exciting opportunity to be a part of the change that we want to see.
What do you enjoy about it and what does the role involve?
One of the best aspects of volunteering for the EDI member reference group has been working alongside twenty other passionate and innovative paediatricians, as well as the RCPCH EDI team, all of whom bring their unique journeys, differences, backgrounds and ideas to the table. Over the last few months we have been virtually meeting and challenged with inspiring, thought-provoking ideas, as well as complex and at times raw conversations, when getting to the real crux of issues. They have continuously sought our reflections and feedback, whilst actively encouraging a safe space for alternative suggestions and original thought.
As part of the ‘our College’ workstream, my role has entailed looking introspectively into the construct of RCPCH, which identified a need to learn more about the protected characteristics of its members and creating a culture where people felt comfortable to share this. Ensuring events, conferences, publications and staff networks reflect the diversity of the College’s membership has been another key focus.
Why should others get involved?
March 2021 marked the publication of our collaborative work, ‘ Working for Change: RCPCH’s next steps on equality, diversity and inclusion’, detailing a summation of points for each work stream, striving to evoke open, honest dialogue and action amongst its members. Although a positive step forwards, this is very much the beginning.
As paediatricians, I truly believe we are a cornerstone in advocating for a healthier, more equal, diverse and inclusive future for children and young people across the world. However, we need to also lead by example within our own day to day practice. There is so much to do, with many of your voices still yet to be heard. That is why you need to get involved!