Oct 21

Celebrating Black History Month in October

Posted: 1 October 2021

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth launches our Black History Month activity. 

I’m delighted to share that throughout October Skills for Care will be marking Black History Month.

Equality, diversity, and inclusion is really important to us at Skills for Care. Black History Month gives us an opportunity to learn about, remind ourselves and honour the accomplishments of Black Britons in our history – accomplishments that are very often forgotten.

I want to thank our Care Collaboration group who have brought together the month’s activities. We will be sharing stories from Black colleagues within the social care sector, discussing their experiences of equality, diversity and inclusion and highlighting the resources, information, and projects which we have available to help social care employers to support equality across the sector.

We know how important equality, diversity and inclusion is in social care. With our “State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England” report being published this month, we will find out more about the current demographics of the sector, including nationality and race, and be able to influence future policy.

We know that people with Black, Asian, and diverse backgrounds make up more than a fifth of the workforce but only around 17% of managers and leaders. We can only have true equality and inclusion when we have fair representation of people from different backgrounds in leadership roles. Having leaders from different backgrounds, including diverse racial backgrounds, allows decisions and policies to be made based on an array of different perspectives and lived experiences which reflect those of the diverse people working within the sector and not a select group of people sitting at the top table.

To increase the diversity of our leadership we need to cultivate a culture of belonging and remove the barriers that Black colleagues can face when entering leadership roles.

Our Moving Up programme is one way to help support Black colleagues, and others with a diverse background, to progress within leadership roles. The programme is aimed at Black, Asian, and diverse background leaders who want to take the next step in their career and covers areas including building self-belief, developing a personal brand, networking, and leadership skills.

Our work alongside the Department of Health and Social Care to introduce a Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) across the social care sector, is also aimed to support progression among diverse leaders.

Internally at Skills for Care we have launched our ‘Belonging strategy.’ Our goal is to cultivate a culture of belonging at Skills for Care where we all feel safe, valued, and embraced for what makes us different, and achieving this goal for my whole team is something which is incredibly important to me.

As part of this we encourage ‘clumsy conversations.’ We may not always say or do the right thing, but by creating an open culture where people can be honest and where people are open to learning and respectful of others, we can create a culture where everyone feels safe and included.

Black History Month is an important time for me and the team to reflect on the equality, diversity, and inclusion work we’re doing internally, and how we’re supporting the sector with this externally. It is also a time of celebration – to celebrate the deep, broad, and profound impact that Black people have made in the past and continue to make, whether that is as an author, activist, care worker, or friend.

We hope that many social care providers will also take this opportunity to access our equality and diversity support, and reflect on their own equality, diversity, and inclusion strategies and how they can continue to embed this long beyond October.

Find out more about what we are doing to support Black History Month this October.

#BlackHistoryMonth2021 #ProudToBe