Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in News on 10th May, 2023
Today is National Day for Staff Networks when we celebrate the incredible contribution that our staff networks make to ensuring our organisation is a great place to work for everyone.
This year's theme #StayingStrong is to remind networks that standing together with other networks, their allies and sponsors = power.
Our staff networks were set up specifically to support our staff who are underrepresented or could be disadvantaged in some way because they share one or more of the ‘protected characteristics’, as defined by the Equality Act 2010: Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex, Sexual orientation.
There are seven active staff networks in our organisation – based around the ‘protected characteristics’ – which continue to go from strength to strength. Our largest network is the Menopause Matters network and the Neurodivergent network is our newest and fastest growing in terms of numbers.
Staff networks are critically important in a variety of ways and are key in enabling us to be a consistently inclusive and diverse organisation. They provide a variety of functions supporting peers, engaging in service development and transformation and representing the voices of people from minority and disadvantaged groups, both using services and working within them.
First and foremost, staff networks provide a safe and welcoming space for colleagues to come together to connect, to share their experiences, and to receive support from those in a similar situation to themselves. Staff networks give that extra bit of encouragement to people who need it to have a say and to speak out in a way that feels safer to them than the other options available. Staff networks are about inspiring a feeling of belonging and finding strength.
As well as bringing together colleagues from different parts of the organisation who may otherwise never meet, staff networks enable people to share their positive experiences and become role models for others – how they progressed their careers, managed difficulties, and avoided their visible characteristics (gender, race, disability etc.) becoming a barrier in the workplace.
Staff networks give back to the organisation too, in contributing to new and existing policies and procedures, influencing organisational culture, identifying training and development needs for colleagues, and promoting safe working environments. All of these are of benefit to all staff, not just those from underrepresented groups.
Staff networks contribute to better services for patients. They can help us reach out to people from diverse communities who may be in need of our services and raise awareness of the needs of those groups thus improving their experience of care while ensuring that our workforce is representative of the patient population we serve.