Daisy Peets, Steering Group Member, Past Chair Connect BAME Staff Network, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, was this year’s Compassionate and Inclusive Leader of the Year at the National BAME Health & Care Awards 2021. She explains why she got involved in her Trust’s network and why compassion is so integral to her role.
You won the ‘Compassionate and Inclusive Leader – Network’ award, congratulations! What do you hope its impact will be?
Winning the award for “Compassionate and Inclusive Leader – Network” means an awful lot to me. Having worked for West Herts NHS Trust for over 30 years, I have invested a lot of time over many years, supporting and encouraging my colleagues during some very hard times via my lead role in our Connect BAME Staff Network. This has been a very rewarding experience for me, and I hope that I have been successful in passing on some of the knowledge and experience that I have gained during this time. I hope that by me winning this award it will encourage others to come forward to support the work of the network which is run by staff for staff. I also hope it will highlight the good work West Herts NHS Trust is doing that is enabling the Connect BAME Staff Network to grow and flourish.
What does being a compassionate and inclusive leader mean to you in your role?
A compassionate and inclusive leader in my role means that I am required to be empathetic to the issues that affect our BAME staff and also be aware of how that impacts the general staff population. If a group of people are unhappy at work that will have an impact on the colleagues that they work with and the users of the services the Trust provides. An inclusive leader should be aware of these things. Also, to be a compassionate and inclusive leader, you need to be able to communicate with staff at all levels and all nationalities.
Why did you want to get involved in setting up the network?
At the time there wasn’t really any support available specifically for BAME staff and the workforce was not as diverse as it is today, so at times staff could feel isolated in their jobs especially if they had work-related issues. The main driver for wanting to get involved in setting up the network was to be able to give BAME staff a listening ear. We established our network in 2006 and it was one of the first such networks developed in the region. I was heavily involved in setting it up with our legendary Consultant, Dr. Alfa Saadu, who recently sadly passed away after coming out of retirement to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the years, we have organised numerous events in the Trust for BAME staff making them feel very included.
Do you consider the network a safe space for BAME workers and community members?
Yes, I do consider it a safe space for BAME workers. Members of Connect BAME staff network can attend our regular safe space sessions where they can share frustrations and issues in confidence, and where appropriate issues and themes can be flagged up to the Chief Executive at our quarterly meetings. The network now runs regular bi-monthly safe space sessions and reports themes and recommendations to a Board subcommittee, the People, Education and Research committee, every six months.
How important is allyship from white colleagues to encourage equality, inclusion and belonging?
This is very important, as it takes all staff to have a commitment to equality and inclusion to make a meaningful difference. One of our senior allies is our Chief Nurse who supports and advocates for us, she listens and gives us credit for all our work and speaks up for our network. She also ensures we are informed and involved in key decisions that can affect our BAME staff.
What does inclusive leadership look like to you as a healthcare professional?
Inclusive leadership supports and includes a diverse workforce aiming to deliver a service to a diverse community.
Tell me about your work over COVID-19 where you sought to better protect BAME workers?
By writing to the Chief Executive highlighting our concerns, our network was able to be closely involved in ensuring BAME staff were adequately risk assessed in their roles during the pandemic. This included ensuring that staff had appropriate or enhanced PPE and ensuring appropriate support services were visible and available for staff during this uncertain time.
To find out more about the National BAME Health & Care Awards, please click here. To nominate yourself or someone else for an award for next year’s outing, click here.