NHS Digital outlines workforce diversity targets

NHS Digital has set itself a number of new targets to improve the diversity of its workforce at all levels, in areas such as tech and data, and particularly in senior roles.

According to the organisation, around one in five NHS staff are from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, and NHS Digital will now bring in new measures to ensure that diversity is matched within its ranks.

NHS Digital currently employs around 3,500 people across England, with 45 per cent of its present workforce female, 13 per cent Black, Asian or minority ethnic, and five per cent of its staff disabled.

In a move to ensure a more representative team, it is aiming for 19 per cent of its staff to be from Black, Asian or minority ethnic groups, as well as for 14 per cent of the workforce to include people with disabilities and 50 per cent to be female, with a target of achieving this by 2025.

The body will implement an array of initiatives to encourage ‘greater diversity and inclusion’ in the workplace, with measures to include: understanding and improving the experience of existing staff from under-represented groups; offering ‘positive action development opportunities’ for under-represented groups; improving the selection processes in both internal and external recruitment; wider ‘outreach and engagement’ to promote NHS Digital as an inclusive employer; and a focus on diversity among those joining NHS Digital as graduates, apprentices and school leavers.

Simon Bolton, Interim Chief Executive at NHS Digital, said: “Setting workforce representation targets is a symbol of our, and my personal, serious intent to make a difference. It certainly is not a quick fix; however it is a visible and public acknowledgement of our current position and acceptance to be held to account.

“It signals our commitment to work much harder to retain and develop our existing diverse talent and to do things differently to engage and attract colleagues from all backgrounds. This is particularly important in our senior leadership roles where we know we need to do better.

“Having a more diverse workforce is only part of the solution, and we need to work to make NHS Digital a truly inclusive environment. This starts with strong leadership and I am unapologetic in setting these expectations of the leadership community in NHS Digital, my executive team and myself as CEO.

“We are focused on building a workforce that better represents our customers, health and care staff and the communities we serve. We know that this will help us to develop and deliver better products and services, and ultimately enable improved healthcare outcomes.”