It's ok to be different: Supporting black and minority ethnic nurses and midwives in their professional development in the UK

Radha Adhikari*, Janet Corcoran, Pam Smith, Sheila Rodgers, Rakiya Suleiman, Kenny Barber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A significant proportion of the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) healthcare workforce comprises people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds. Evidence shows that this population is under-represented at senior management levels. A collaborative leadership development initiative for BME nurses and midwives, by involving their line managers and mentors, was designed and implemented in a Scottish Health Board.

This paper affirms the importance of a collaborative initiative that is targeted to support BME nurses and midwives for leadership development and career progression, and the promotion of an inclusive organisational culture to improve team work, and service standards.

This initiative adopted an Action Research approach. The programme began with collectively exploring participants’ understanding of BME workforce development challenges, then planning and delivering a targeted leadership development training, and then evaluating it, in a cyclical way.

With support from the project facilitators, line managers and mentors, a significant number of BME participants have gone on to achieve career progression. Participating line-managers and mentors have gained an in-depth and nuance understanding of workforce diversity, individuals’ potentials, unconscious biases, and the importance of an inclusive organisational culture. All participants reported that they have learned to become more reflective in their professional practice, and more able to explore, embrace, and promote inclusive workplace culture. BME participants reported feeling that they were valued members of staff, and that this had led to a positive impact on team work and better patientcare outcome.

The project has opened a new window into the world of the BME workforce. Findings highlight the value of a diverse workforce, and of an inclusive organisational culture being crucial for effective team work, and of overall benefit to workforce management. Finally, a collaborative initiative like this can successfully improve team work to deliver better patient care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103508
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • BME workforce
  • diversity management
  • inclusive organizational culture
  • leadership development
  • UK NHS


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