RCM says it will challenge itself to do better on race issues as it launches new campaign

By RCM says it will challenge itself to do better on race issues as it launches new campaign on 21 June 2020 Midwives RCM Midwifery Maternity Services RCM CEO

‘We will challenge ourselves to do better when it comes to tackling race, equality and discrimination issues.’ That is the message from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it launches Race Matters, a new campaign to tackle race issues within maternity services, not only for midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs), but also for the pregnant women in their care.


The RCM’s Race Matters campaign is based around five key pledges to its members:

  • Training for all RCM staff and activists to support and empower them to recognise and challenge racist behaviour.
  • Listening and learning from all members to reflect their experiences accurately and actively use what we have learnt to influence and promote positive change in the workplace.
  • Using our position, both as an organisation and through our reps, to challenge discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.
  • Ensuring that the RCM at every level is representative of the membership we serve.
  • Supporting research and championing positive change in outcomes for pregnant women from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Commenting, Gill Walton, CEO of the RCM says:

“We know we haven’t always got it right, but we are determined to change and be a positive force for our members and the women they care for. It is unacceptable that black and Asian midwives and MSWs are more likely to experience bullying at work, more likely to face disciplinary processes and less likely to advance in their careers and this is something we must tackle more aggressively than we have done in the past. It is also vital that RCM workplace representatives are aware of the Workplace Race Equality Standard. This can help them support and protect our members in the workplace and make sure that they are not discriminated against. This is crucial to delivering safe, high quality maternity care to women and their families. If we are to deliver an inclusive maternity service for all women racism in our NHS must be stamped out and replaced with respect, dignity and compassion for everyone it serves.”

The RCM says ethnic background continues to be the most common reason for discrimination in the NHS and the results of the 2019 NHS Staff Survey published this year proved that – with over 45% of staff  stating they had experienced discrimination based on their ethnic background.

Gill added:

“While this campaign feels particularly prescient, we actually began work on it two years ago, looking at our organisation and our staff, evaluating the work that the RCM has done to date and asking our members from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to share their experiences. We are also working with brap a leading equalities charity to challenge ourselves as an organisation to do better and be part of the wider solution. That is the commitment we are making to our members and the women in their care.”


Commenting, Joy Warmington CEO of brap said:

This is a welcome step forward from the RCM. We are in unprecedented times and this calls for unprecedented action. The type of change midwives and MSWs need won’t happen overnight. This is not about quick wins. It’s about being focused on what we can all do that will lead to sustainable change. There is a long way to go, but what’s important is the journey has begun and what is crucial now is to maintain focus and purpose. We need other organisations to join the RCM and drive race equality forward.”



To contact the RCM media office call 020 7312 3456 or email [email protected].

Notes to Editors


  1. June 22 is Windrush Day, a day to acknowledge a generation of people who came to the UK from the Caribbean by invitation to help rebuild Britain after World War II. The RCM acknowledges the invaluable contribution made by many of this generation to our NHS as midwives and nurses and believes their contribution should be celebrated and never forgotten.
  2. NMC Equality and Inclusion framework https://www.nmc.org.uk/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusion/
  3. The Inequality of COVID-19 https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views/rcm-opinion/2020/the-inequality-of-covid-19/
  4. Advice NHS staff who may be more at risk from COVID-19 because of the race can be read at https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/3939/risk-assessment-wraparound-guidance-a3-may-2020.pdf.
  5. BME Midwives, Disciplinary Proceedings and the Workplace Race Equality Standard https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/1887/equality_diversity_publication_bme_midwives_race_equality.pdf
  6. System failing BAME women’ says RCM https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/june/system-failing-bame-women-says-rcm-on-new-study/
  7. RCM offers advice to pregnant women as new study shows heightened risk to some communities https://www.rcm.org.uk/media-releases/2020/may/rcm-offers-advice-to-pregnant-women-as-new-study-shows-heightened-risk-to-some-communities/
  8. RCM Race Matters Campaign https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/4128/race-matters-a-statement-by-the-rcm.pdf
  9. https://www.rcm.org.uk/media/4129/race-matters-poster.pdf
  10. NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) https://www.england.nhs.uk/about/equality/equality-hub/equality-standard/
  11. . NHS Staff Survey 2020 - Discrimination: Ethnic background continues to be the most common reason for discrimination (there has however been an increase of midwives across all protected characteristics experiencing discrimination). In 2019 45.5% of all staff stated they had experienced discrimination based on their ethnic background a steep increase from 2018 when the figure was 41.7%. For midwives 42% stated they had experienced discrimination based on their ethnic background in 2018 this figure was 41.8%. https://www.nhsstaffsurveys.com/Page/1085/Latest-Results/NHS-Staff-Survey-Results/


The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.


brap is a charity transforming the way we think and do equality. Brap support organisations, communities, and cities with meaningful approaches to learning, change, research, and engagement. We are a partner and friend to anyone who believes in the rights and potential of all human beings. https://www.brap.org.uk/about