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Farquharson chairs Think Local Act Personal , a national partnership of more than 50 organisations committed to transforming care through personalisation and community-based support. The challenge was the subject of a recent roundtable discussion convened by Skills for Care , which runs its own programme to help promote leadership diversity, Moving Up BAME. Under the scheme — which is currently recruiting its next cohort — aspiring leaders in the public, private or voluntary sectors are supported to gain the skills and confidence to advance their careers.
Asabi Wright, leader of a social work practice group in Southwark, south London, took part in the programme. During the discussion she said the key benefit had been to give her confidence to make changes in her role, to which she had just been promoted, and to envisage further developing her career in future. Wright stressed, however, that confidence-building was only part of the answer.
Employing organisations have to change, too. Confidence-building is key, she agreed. But once you feel ready to apply for senior jobs, the challenge is not so much getting shortlisted for interview as being selected by appointment panels that tend to reflect the culture of the organisation — both in their attitudes and their make-up.
Munira Thobani, a board member at Skills for Care who is an executive coach and organisational development consultant, said she started working as a race equality adviser for Newham council, east London, in Thirty years on, many of the same career obstacles remain for BME professionals. White people who make the decisions need to have it as part of their everyday thinking. Much of the onus for re-shaping attitudes and practice lays with national organisations and umbrella groups within the social care sector, the speakers agreed.
Aisling Duffy is chief executive of Certitude , a learning disability and mental health charity, and sits on the board of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group. Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum NCF , representing not-for-profit care providers, admitted the same of her board.
Mark Harvey, principal social worker PSW at Hertfordshire county council and co-chair of the PSW network for adults, said he and others had been moved to tweet about the overwhelming whiteness of the annual NCAS social care conference last autumn.