Encouraging Diversity in our finance teams: Guest blog by Libby Walters

I am Libby Walters, Chief Finance Officer (CFO) at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust and I have the privilege of being the CFO lead for the BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) ICS Finance Staff Development programme. 

Finance Staff Development is something I am passionate about, as I have experienced and seen first-hand the benefit it has to individuals in their finance careers.  Finance staff in the NHS are committed and passionate professionals, working hard to ensure we enable the best possible care for our local communities.  The investment into our staff ensures they can flourish and have a rewarding career in the NHS. 

In our ever-changing professional landscape, we know it is imperative to increase the diversity of our teams. This isn’t just a goal but a necessity to unlock our full potential, individually and to harness the power of NHS finance. To ensure I could lead the changes we needed to improve the equality and diversity of our finance teams I became an Inclusion and Diversity Ambassador and actively encourage members of my team to do the same. It has been humbling to meet regularly with the One NHS Finance Inclusion and Diversity Ambassadors across the South West, and our equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) ambassadors in our system.  Taking the time to listen to the real life experiences of our EDI ambassadors working in the NHS and living in our local community. We don’t currently get it right for every member of our team and acknowledging this is a crucial first step….. we now need to make changes.   

The EDI ambassadors at the RUH have been amazing, taking the time to listen to colleagues, promote the work they are doing and their desire to initiate meaningful change.  Recently, at our annual BSW finance staff event, we brought together the EDI ambassadors to host a session. It was a privilege to see these colleagues flourish on stage, particularly those colleagues who had never done something similar before. The excellent feedback from delegates showcase the power of sharing real-life experiences and promoting a shift in understanding the significance of EDI. The importance of this topic was evident, as were the potential repercussions of falling short in this area.   

The next step in our journey, is to keep the momentum going and share the actions and learning across the region, not just the organisations in our system. It is imperative we work together and share learning as wide as possible. 

EDI is essential within NHS finance, from reflecting the communities we serve to embracing our diverse teams to enhance innovation and problem-solving. Our EDI ambassadors and the ONF Inclusion and Diversity Ambassadors do fantastic work around each of the protected characteristics. On 5-11 February 2024, Race Equality Week will be taking place. Race Equality Week is an annual UK-wide movement uniting hundreds of thousands of organisations and individuals to address the barriers to race equality in the workplace. As part of this, we are encouraging colleagues to make a pledge around race equality, I personally will be pledging to ensure that our EDI ambassadors have a regular slot at the finance team briefing.

If you would like to find out more on how to get involved with Race Equality Week, including making your own pledge, please contact charley.spicer@hfma.org.uk 

I would like to use this opportunity to express my thanks to the BSW EDI ambassadors who are brave enough to share their stories to colleagues and committed to leading on this crucial work….. they really are starting to make a difference to colleagues.  You are amazing… thank you. 

Blog File(s):

EDI-blog-Race-Equality-Week-Jan-24-Libby-Walters.pdf