Diversity, Equity and Belonging


The College of Paramedics rationale for change
The College have considered the use of the term ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity’ and after discussion at all levels of the organisation, have decided instead to move to using ‘Diversity, Equity and Belonging’. 

Equality vs Equity
Equality - The Cambridge Dictionary and Google define equality as - the right of different groups of people to have similar social position and receive the same treatment, resources or opportunity
Equity - Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome or in the words of social-change.org equity is about giving people what they need, in order to make things fair.

Inclusion vs Belonging
Oxford Languages define inclusion as - The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. www.inclusion.me.uk determine that it is seen as a universal human right. The aim of inclusion is to embrace all people irrespective of race, gender, disability, medical or other needs.
The Cambridge dictionary describes belonging as a feeling of being happy or comfortable as part of a particular group and having a good relationship with the other members of the group because they welcome you and accept you. A sense of belonging is one of humanity's most basic need.

The College’s rationale for this change of terms, stems from the fact that the paramedic profession is not a diverse one. We have the lowest numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff of all the allied health, nursing and medical professions (NHS WRES data 2021). The proportion of disabled staff is also very low (1:5 people with disabilities in the UK with 3.4% only in the ambulance services) and 4.65% of staff declare that they are LGBT+. Whilst this data provides a picture of the demographics of our profession it does not reflect the experiences of each group in the workplace. We know for instance that Black & minority ethnic staff are 1.14 times more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process compared to white staff and as a profession, ambulance staff (operational) were least likely to believe that their trust acts fairly with regard to career progression and promotion (70.7%), with the lowest levels of belief amongst Black & minority ethnic women (62.1%) and Black & minority ethnic men (60.5%) in this profession. Whilst 10.6% of ambulance (operational) staff experienced discrimination from a manager/team leader or other colleagues in last 12 months, the highest levels were amongst Black & minority ethnic men (19.2%) and Black & minority ethnic women (18.6%) (NHS WRES data 2021).

Why is this change in terminology important? Having a diverse workforce, brings new ideas, viewpoints and ways of working, and has a positive impact on business and organisations. It is also very important that our local populations are represented in the workforce to reduce health inequalities and ensure clinical practice is of a high standard for all.

The challenge our profession faces, is that we struggle to attract diverse candidates. This illustrates that the issue does not lie with those minority groups, but with the systems, culture and attitudes of the people within the profession. We do not always make staff from these minority groups feel welcome, or that they belong. We do not work to change our culture but expect them to adapt to ours. 

Changing our focus from equality, diversity and inclusion, to diversity (because this is a priority for us), equity (to ensure we are adapting to meet the needs of the diverse workforce) and belonging (which will also help to retain our future diverse population) will be a small change but one with an impactful message that demonstrates that the College of Paramedics values all of its members and strives to improve the experience for each member and the general population we serve. 

The College of Paramedics is committed to fulfilling the aims of our Belonging and Inclusion Strategy which includes the necessity to understand the diverse needs of our members. Please do complete the 'equality' monitoring questions found on your profile page when you sign in to the College's website and help us to help you (all information provided is kept in the strictest confidence in-line with current GDPR requirements). 

Sarah Todd, Diversity, Equity and Belonging Manager