W is for … WRES experts
A workplace in which staff feel safe to speak up about their concerns is a workplace that can only improve.
The Freedom to Speak Up means creating a culture in which everyone can speak up, regardless of their background, their role, or their ethnicity. The Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is a programme, launched in 2015, to shine a light on inequality of opportunity and experience in the NHS, and therefore help inform tangible actions at local and national level to address them. Despite improvements, the annual WRES reports have continued to show that, in general, staff from a black or minority ethnic background have a measurably worse experience of life in the NHS than their white colleagues.
While the WRES has seen some positive changes as a result of simply publishing this data, it became clear there was a need to embed a deeper understanding of workforce race equality in the NHS. The WRES experts programme fills this gap, by training individuals across the system to be experts in race quality, to share best practice within and across organisations, and to influence and inspire senior leaders throughout the system. One hundred and ten WRES experts have now been trained and are at work throughout the NHS.
There is a clear synergy between the WRES experts and Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. Both groups seek to give their colleagues a voice, both exist to support the awareness of senior leadership, and both groups ultimately exist to make the NHS a better place for staff and for patients.
This year has been an unprecedented and challenging time for all NHS staff, but data has consistently shown that people from a black and minority ethnic background have been more adversely affected by the pandemic. There has never been a more important time for this staff group’s voice to be heard. As is shown in the quotes here, guardians working alongside WRES experts can open the door to more honest and meaningful conversations about the lived experience of staff from all backgrounds.
The national WRES team are currently working alongside the National Guardians Office to design a training course for guardians on workforce race equality to be launched in 2021. In the meantime, we’re asking our WRES experts, where they have not done so already, to reach out to local guardians, to have those difficult conversations, and to help create a culture in which everyone can speak up.