The NHS has been accused of being wrought with “white privilege” by one of its chief executives. Sarah-Jane Marsh has decided she will no longer sit on any interview panel that fails to ensure appropriate BAME representation.
BAME staff account for 18 percent of the 1.2-million-strong NHS workforce. While 27 percent occupy lower-paid roles, only five percent of them hold very senior positions.
As figures from Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust that reveal white people are twice as likely to be appointed, Marsh said that she will no longer sit on any interview panel that does not include an ethnic minority member.
“I do not believe that is because white people are twice as good as black people, there is something else going on,” Marsh said, Sky news reports.
She argued that a failure to appoint enough BAME members at senior level implies that the public health service is not as diverse as the community it serves, while it may also be missing out on recruiting the best possible people for the roles available.
“I think there is white privilege, I think there are people having unconscious bias, there are people coming to interview and not performing because they see a panel in front of them that does not believe in diversity, and I want to do something to change that.
“I want anyone coming for interview to see that we are a diverse organization and want the best people regardless of their background,” the chief executive said. “It’s clear white people have privilege because they make their way into positions of authority far more quickly.”
Marsh also emphasized how an all-white panel may deter applicants from working for the NHS. “If you walk into an interview room and are met with a white wall, you are going to think this organization is not for me, or ‘They are going to think I’m not for them,’” she explained.
“If that happens, initial performance can drop because of all these soft signals that the organization does not value diversity.”
The NHS is not the only British institution to be hit with accusations of white privilege. Oxford University recently came under the spotlight when a new study by Cherwell revealed white people have double the chance of being admitted to the prestigious university than their black counterparts.
The BBC was also recently slammed by Labour MP and BAME equalities campaigner David Lammy over its failure to increase diversity among its workforce.
Lammy accused the broadcaster of “paying lip service to diversity” as ethnic-minority staff increased by a mere 0.9 percent in the four years to 2015, despite the BBC’s relentless efforts to expand BAME representation among its staff.
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