RCM Networks – our BME Network survey

By Nick Child, Senior Organiser (Networks) on 19 December 2018 BME staff

In October 2018 we sought views from across our membership on our proposal to launch an RCM BME Network to complement our existing range of RCM Networks and to take our equalities strategy forward.

To ensure we were inclusive of the views of all members, this survey was open to all and the result was that we received responses from a diverse range of members of which around 40% identified as BME. The theme of the feedback was generally very supportive of the work that we are doing to improve our support and engagement in respect of the issues faced by BME midwives, MSWs and student midwives as well as the aim of campaigning on issues that affect BME women and families in their care.

Many members who identified as BME as well as those who identified as non BME groups expressed concern about a specific network not being inclusive and potentially marginalising RCM BME members.

Other key themes from our survey were:

  • Working to celebrate the many ethnic cultures which make up the mix of midwives in UK so that those who are not BME realise that their profession is one which is inclusive and multi-ethnic
  • Enhancing insight into one another’s lives in a multicultural profession to foster more respect for each other (linking in with our Caring for You Campaign)
  • Further taking forward our investigations into the disproportionate numbers of BME midwives facing punitive actions in the workplace (linking to our 2016 BME Midwives, Disciplinary Proceedings and the Workplace Race Equality Standard
  • Creating partnerships with other BME groups and networks within the NHS, Maternity and beyond, to campaign around workplace issues and those faced by BME service users
  • Identifying learning and development opportunities for BME members
  • A focus on the unique challenges faced by BME Student Midwives in education, placements and preceptorships

As a result of the feedback received around the potentially divisive approach of separate networks for particular equality groups, the RCM is responding by undertaking more work around how we as an organisation dedicated to maternity are perceived by BME maternity staff and the women and families in their care. Whilst this work is carried out we will hold back on setting up our BME Network until we have clear recommendations going forward.

This work will look at how we can be more inclusive as an organisation at every single level and how we can provide an opportunity for BME members to be more involved in the professional and trade union aspects of our organisation. Our goal is to ensure that we are more inclusive in reaching out to and being relevant to BME staff in maternity and there is a need to widen engagement with members and prospective members on the way forward to us improving as an inclusive and diverse organisation in representing the needs of the maternity profession.

We will be commencing some work in the New Year which will comprise of various focus group events, internal discussions with RCM Staff, the RCM Board and other stakeholders which will be undertaken independently to make recommendations to us going forward.

The aim of this work will be to review:

1.       BME perceptions of the RCM (to be inclusive of all groups within definition)

2.       Our member offer and benefits and the relevance and accessibility to BME members and prospective members

3.       Our RCM Board, RCM Staff and Activists diversity and how we can improve this

4.       Our organisation’s Equalities strategy and structure

Those survey respondents who expressed interest in being involved and staying in contact will be directly contacted as part of this work but we hope to invite many more to be involved in various focus group events and activities so you can help inform this work and our direction as a whole in promoting, supporting and influencing midwifery.

If this is something you would like to be involved in but have not been in contact with us before please contact us to let us know and we will be in touch.