Oxford Health’s Workforce Racial Equality Standards report published on its website paints a revealing picture of racial discrimination and institutional racism in the trust.
The report confirms Unison’s claim, first made in September 2013, that Black staff are over-represented in formal disciplinary procedures - being more than 6 times likely to be entered into formal disciplinary procedures than white staff. This has increased over the last last year.
Based on previous figures the staff who identify themselves as Black African or Black Caribbean are even more likely to be entered into the formal disciplinary process.
The tone of the report is one of alarming complacency, referring to a 1% drop in the percentage of disciplinary procedures involving Black staff as “more closely reflecting the staff demographic”. There is also the repeated use of the phrase “apparent representation”, suggesting that something other than over-representation is happening - though the trust has not offered an alternative explanation as to why more Black staff are being subject disciplinary procedures.
Some of the actions proposed by the trust to tackle the problem over a year ago are only now being implemented, suggesting the trust considers this an issue of low priority. In contrast Unison believes the report highlights the need for more urgent and targeted action by the trust.
Unison has written to the trust calling for more effective case management at an informal stage involving all BME cases to ensure that a thorough exploration of the facts has been undertaken and HR advice sought and obtained before any formal investigation process is undertaken.
Unison would also like the trust to urgently review its plan to reduce the over-representation of Black staff subject to disciplinary action, and would like to see the plan include the following actions:
● the Trust to write to all managers who can initiate disciplinary action to tell them what the problem is i.e. as a group they are initiating too many disciplinary actions against black staff. They need to be told this is not acceptable. They need to be told to reflect on their judgement of others, making them aware that they may be influenced by anti-migrant news stories that are create an unfair and racist view of workers originating from overseas (staff of Black African and Black Caribbean have the highest over-representation).
● The trust sets a target for a 50% reduction in disciplinary cases against Black staff, focusing on the groups most discriminated against over the next year.
● The instigation of a review process for any new disciplinary investigations of Black staff by someone with advanced racial awareness training to ensure the process is not being contaminated with negative assumptions.
● The trust develops its training for all staff to be positively anti-racist, rather than just about cultural awareness.
● the trust develops training for all staff that emphasises the positive contributions of immigrants to the UK and also of Muslims as these are the two main forms of racism in current circulation in mainstream media at this time.
● The trust to provide figures on a monthly basis similar to those in the report with the additional breakdown of “others” into their respective groupings to allow us to identify particular vulnerable groups. This is important as black African and black Caribbean staff were much more likely to be over represented in disciplinary cases in the figures form 2013, and 2014. These organisation of the figures in the latest report prevent a comparison and prevent ameliorative action for groups particular subject to discrimination.
● Future reports to include longer period data on small directorates to identify whether their current very high rates for small numbers of Black staff are representative or not.
● Future reports include the percentage of staff in Trust is averaged over the same period as the disciplinary actions.