Diversity in NHS Financial Leadership

2018 in some ways, was a year of change – the world sat up and took notice as the #MeToo agenda took flight.  Diversity and equality were embraced across many industries, with companies required to publish their gender pay gap, and many firsts – we have our first female Doctor Who and the first national NHS female Chief Financial Officer in Elizabeth O’Mahony of NHS Improvement.  As a specialist recruiter for the NHS, I am reflecting on what this means for the NHS and where it stands on diversity (and isn’t it nice to think about something rather than Brexit…..).

Gender equality, inclusion and diversity were key issues discussed at last month’s HFMA Annual Conference – As the industry continues to push for gender equality for example, there remains much more work that needs to be done within the NHS.  Despite women making up 77% of the healthcare workforce, in London only 5 Provider Trusts have a female CFO.   In the 20 years that I’ve been recruiting into the NHS there feels to me that there hasn’t been that much progress on these figures yet most if not all of the clients I talk to recognise the need to embrace diversity and are unequivocally positive about the impact more female CFOs would have.

Moves are already afoot to address the balance in both gender and ethnicity in senior leadership roles including the creation of sponsors to further develop belief and confidence in applicants from underrepresented minorities, as well as courses and sessions run by Future Focused Finance and the HFMA on diversity in leadership.  Recruitment consultancies can also play their part in ensuring shortlists reflect a truly diverse field by more proactive approaches and by focusing on skillset and ability, moving away from a “like for like” match to their client.

I don’t want this to be just one more article which discusses the problem and not the solution, but I am interested in your views on what else it will take to get real change in diversity in 2019?  We are working on initiatives to bring female leaders together for networking and roundtable events, and working on a 1 to 1 basis to bring about positive solutions.  But we would welcome your thoughts and ideas if this is a subject you are equally passionate about.

With an ageing population, a crumbling estate and a tight budget, 2019 represents what must be the most challenging period that the NHS has faced to date.  It is crucial that we value diversity as a key ingredient for success.