Women in NHS Finance Cite Gender Bias

A report by Future-Focused Finance suggests that the majority of women currently working in NHS finance believe that promotion processes are fundamentally unfair.

The organisation which conducted the survey is involved with boosting the profile of the finance function that forms part of the overall NHS operation.

In order to garner the results, Future-Focused Finance interviewed over 1,000 employees working in the NHS, quizzing them on their particular experiences of gender, ethnicity, disability and other diversity issues within the health service.

Its report, “Diversity in NHS Finance Leadership: beliefs, behaviours and barriers”, found only 43% of women thought promotions were fair and merit-based, and that they were 40% more likely than their male counterparts to think they had experienced bias in their careers.

It should be said in mitigation that this is entirely based on perception, and no direct evidence was actually acquired by the organisation to support this conclusion.

Nonetheless, female NHS finance staff were also 28% more likely than men to have experienced barriers to career progression, and 46% more likely to think their gender under-represented in senior roles.

Further investigation would be required in order to examine whether this Trend was a valid representation of the actual situation in the NHS, or whether women were simply more likely to make this particular argument.

It will be worrying for NHS leaders, though, that only 30% of respondents thought the organisation’s board fully represented the community it was supposed to serve in terms of diversity.

The NHS has prided itself on a diversity policies, and it seems that these have been less than successful based on this survey.

In an attempt to address the situation, Future-Focused Finance has formed a task force that will seek to improve diversity through education.

It is hoped that this will encourage the hierarchy of NHS organisations to identify problems with current practices, and identify and support talented staff, enabling them to progress and ensure consistent diversity messages are heard across NHS organisations.

The initiative is supported by Bob Alexander, deputy chief executive at NHS Improvement, who commented on the study.

“This new research shows significant differences in gender representation at senior levels in NHS finance, as well as a workforce whose ethnic diversity is failing to reflect the communities it exists to serve. The whole NHS finance community is pulling together so it can play its part in helping make the efficiency savings and service transformations needed to build a fit-for-the-future NHS. With significant international evidence showing that a lack of diversity hinders performance, the NHS can’t afford not to make progress when there is currently so much pressure on the service to improve efficiency whilst keeping standards high.”

While the report may raise concerns about diversity in the NHS, some still believe that there are no problems with discrimination in the health service, and that job roles should merely be decided on merit alone.


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