Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KGH) has been awarded the Disability Confident Leader status, Level 3 of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme[i] as it works to improve equity and inclusiveness in the workplace.

The scheme helps employers recruit and retain great people, as well as helping customers and other businesses identify employers like KGH who are committed to equality in the workplace. According to the Government, more than 11 million employees work for Disability Confident businesses.

To qualify for the scheme and progress to Level 3, KGH had to report on initiatives using a Government Framework[ii] which supports organisations to record and voluntarily report information on disability, mental health, and wellbeing in the workplace.

Carol Verner, Interim Head of Equality Diversity & Inclusion/ ESR Systems Project Manager at KGH said: “Receiving the Disability Confident recognition is an important milestone for KGH as it will help us recruit, retain and develop the careers of staff with disabilities within the Trust. The Disability Confident badge will also show people with disabilities that we recognise the value they bring – putting us ahead in the search for talent.

“At KGH we are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace where people from all backgrounds thrive. Being part of this scheme enables us to drive positive change across the organisation and we are proud to promote this accreditation.”

Over the past two years KGH has completely overhauled its equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) strategy. The trust has also significantly grown and developed its EDI networks and introduced a training programme to promote an inclusive culture.

The largest EDI network is REACH (Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage) which has more than 400 members, but there is also a Disability and Wellbeing network, an LGBTQ+ network, a network for overseas medical professionals, a Young Peers network, and a gender equality network.

The networks are fully supported by the leadership team and sponsored by the board providing a safe space for people to talk and get the support they need, so they can address any issues they are facing.

The Trust has also introduced inclusive recruitment champions, who are trained to spot unconscious bias and help managers make more informed decisions.

With research[iii] showing that disabled people are the group that suffers from the highest amount of unconscious bias when compared with gender and ethnicity, this is a vital part of the recruitment process.

KGH has more than 30 trained inclusive recruitment champions and since September 2021, all job roles at Band 7 (manager level) and above, as well as all medical and dental posts, will have a champion on the interview panel.

The EDI strategy has rated highly at KGH and by NHS England; a 2020 staff survey by the national body rated the trust 9.1 out of 10 for its policy.