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RCP welcomes new diversity and inclusion report and promises action plan

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has welcomed the findings of an independent report it commissioned last year into diversity and inclusion at the RCP and will publish an action plan in September to address the recommendations.

The report was compiled by consultant Ben Summerskill, previously chief executive of Stonewall and a commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

His brief was to review the RCP’s current performance on diversity within its workforce, with a strong focus on volunteer posts filled by members or others. He was also asked to make recommendations as to any improvements necessary in monitoring and reporting and to feed into the development of the RCP’s new strategy for its work. The intention was to be more ambitious than simply ensuring statutory compliance and to look at how the RCP can become a best practice organisation in the health sector.

The report’s six sections look at the current make-up of the RCP, how diversity is measured and monitored, how the RCP presents itself and how some perceive it, how the organisation recruits and retains staff and volunteers, and at its ways of working. There are 29 wide-ranging recommendations, covering areas such as advertising, recruitment, representation, staff networks and systems and training.

Ben Summerskill was supported by an 11-strong advisory panel from the RCP,  which carried out 22 face-to-face interviews with a range of stakeholders, including members and employees, from a range of personal backgrounds and at different stages in their careers. A further 1,090 members, staff and stakeholders responded between October 2019 and January 2020 to an easily accessible anonymous online survey.

Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: “We’re grateful to Ben Summerskill for taking us at our word and being candid in his findings. We commissioned this report soon after our 500th anniversary as our minds turned from past to future and its publication has become very timely, coinciding with the renewed urgency given to improving diversity by Black Lives Matter protests, and at a time when the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 upon some communities has been keenly felt by all of us in the health sector.

“These are challenging times and this report, followed swiftly by our action plan, will help to ensure that we have the best people working for us and with us, able to contribute fully to our work.”

Ben Summerskill said: “It’s been refreshing to find genuine engagement at senior levels of the RCP with these issues. The proof of the pudding in the report’s implementation will be that not just the status of paid and voluntary staff but the quality of services provided to all the RCP’s stakeholders gets even better as a result.”

The full report is available to download here.