Proud to be a voice for change

As we publish our progress on 'Working for change', our reports on the College’s work in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), we hear from Carlota Navarro Esperse, our EDI Officer, about her experiences and successes on the programme.
Carlota Navarro Esperse

How did the EDI work of the College start?

I feel extremely proud to be part of an organisation committed to make meaningful improvements in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

In 2019 the College commissioned Putting ladders down, which set multiple recommendations for the College’s first steps to EDI. This was only the start of a long journey towards working for change.

On the back of Putting ladders down, we published our first EDI action plan, setting out ways to open up our volunteer roles to a diverse paediatric community.

In August 2020 we began our work to address wider EDI issues in paediatrics. In Working for changewe broadened the scope of our work beyond volunteer recruitment, to focus on four areas: working lives of paediatricians; health outcomes for children and young people; volunteering and awards; and our College as an organisation.

Who is involved?

[Members'] valuable insight has helped us really understand our priorities

In February 2020 the College developed a new staff role dedicated to this important work – and that is when I joined! With an academic background in inclusive development and health policy, as well as experience in EDI, it was with great excitement that I took on the EDI Officer role here. My role supports the development of the EDI work at the College, working closely with Natasha Neill, Chief of Staff and the EDI Staff Working Group (SWG).

The SWG comprises staff from several teams across the College, and with very different backgrounds. The group has worked hard to make progress across the actions we committed to implement in the Working for change reports.

Member engagement has been key to enable us to look at wider issues within EDI and paediatrics. About twenty members sit on our Member Reference Group, and their meetings provide space fo members to share their thoughts and experiences on EDI. This valuable insight has helped us really understand what our priorities should be.

The EDI Oversight Group and RCPCH’s Senior Management Team strongly encourage to keep on working for change and are extremely supportive of all the EDI work. 

Is there a project you have particularly enjoyed working on?

Mentoring pairs are equal partners in the process of learning from each other...

Yes, developing our reciprocal mentoring programme.

In our first EDI action plan we committed to look at how reverse mentoring could be implemented at the College. After multiple discussions with the EDI Oversight group, the Staff Working Group, the Member Reference Group, and particularly Segn Nedd and Bhanu Williams, it was decided that we develop a reciprocal mentoring programme instead.

Within reciprocal mentoring, mentoring pairs are equal partners in the process of learning from each other and the relationship is reciprocal in nature, rather than one side of the partnership holding the power.

Last February we developed a pilot programme with five pairs of a College Officer with an EDI Member Reference Group member. The pairs each have six virtual meetings, one per month over the six-month programme and with possibility to extend to one year. They discuss EDI issues and experiences within paediatrics.

What are the key EDI areas of progress in the past year?

There are several areas of major progress! The EDI team has launched two pilots: the reciprocal mentoring pilot scheme, as mentioned above, and the pilot fund for 2021/22 to help cover caring related expenses for our volunteers. We've also improved the collection of protected characteristics data for our 2021 snapshot, with information on members, volunteers, awards and staff. 

Our work within the Working lives of paediatricians workstream has been significant. We have ensured that accessibility for members is considered in the development of the new online learning system, explored how our data on training can be shared and streamlined for better reporting and established new data processes to bring the psychometrics team into new projects at an earlier stage. We have also worked to embed and improve EDI in exam question and scenario writing.

Two more things to mention: continuous efforts in advocating and empowering others to advocate for diverse children and young people, and campaigning around our priorities outlined in our State of Child Health report.

The update on our progress that we launch today highlights that the College is dedicated to be accountable, to be a voice for change and to engage deeply and widely with the paediatrics community and children and young people.