Dr Habib Naqvi and Yvonne Coghill ask NHS organisations to fastrack implementation of WRES for recognising improvements in workplace race equality.

Even during the most difficult year in the history of the NHS, with particular and high-profile risks and challenges facing our black and ethnic minority staff, NHS organisations have nonetheless been continuing our good work seeking to improve fairness at work for all our colleagues.

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We introduced the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) in 2015 to hold a mirror up to the NHS and to spur action in closing the gaps in workplace inequalities between our BME and white staff.

NHS organisations are making genuine progress to improve outcomes for staff from minority groups of HR processes including recruitment and selection, training opportunities, and disciplinary action.

And, over the last four years, the number of very senior managers of BME background has increased by 30 per cent.

The case for workforce equality is a powerful one: not just for our staff but patients too.

The available evidence shows that when staff feel respected and treated fairly, then they perform better, which in the NHS means our patients will receive a better overall experience.

NHS organisations need to take the implementation of the WRES, and the evidence base that underpins it, seriously.

We will also look at how organisations have utilised their approaches to workforce race equality to tackle some of the pertinent workplace issues emerging from covid-19

We now know from WRES data that not doing so is likely to have detrimental impact on outcomes including: staff sickness rates; staff engagement levels; temporary staff spend; Friend and Family Test results, and on Care Quality Commission ratings.

So for patients and colleagues alike, NHS organisations are right to double down on this agenda, and those that are doing well on continuous improvement, are celebrated.

We are delighted to sponsor the first ever workplace race equality award to recognise initiatives which promote race equality and inclusion within the workplace.

Judges will be looking for initiatives which can show tangible results in areas such as reduction of harassment and bullying, disciplinary experiences for BME staff in comparison with white colleagues, clear and evidenced career progression, increased likelihood of BME staff appointed to senior roles, evidence that BME staff believe their employer offers equal opportunities for promotion and improved organisational culture.

We will also look at how organisations have utilised their approaches to workforce race equality to tackle some of the pertinent workplace issues emerging from covid-19. The toll of the virus has been crushing for so many in our communities, including those from BME backgrounds, who have been hit particularly hard by the virus.

Entering for the workplace race equality award is the opportunity for NHS organisations to showcase and honour their hard work and effort on progression race equality in their workplace, so that all staff have the opportunities and experiences that they deserve, and the NHS can deliver the very highest quality of compassionate care.