NHS England

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Inclusive Leadership Project


Deeds and Words were commissioned by the NHS Leadership and Lifelong Learning Academy to establish the extent to which leadership interventions and training were supporting inclusive and collective leadership in the NHS. We wanted to hear from a broad range of leaders working across the NHS to really understand where the gaps are in how the NHS currently attracts, develops and retains a workforce that represents the public it serves.

Deeds and Words have always advocated for leadership at all levels of an organisation. While leadership remains entangled with hierarchy, systemic injustices that exist across society are replicated in internal structures. That means power and platforms are concentrated with the few who benefit from these inequalities.

As we’ve seen over recent months a lack of insight and fewer perspectives when it comes to healthcare can be devastating on a national scale. That’s why when we launched the Inclusive Leadership Project, we specifically asked to hear from NHS workers from underrepresented cultural backgrounds and with a broad range of lived experiences.


What we did

We were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to be involved in this work. We brought together eighty delegates from across NHS England. Over a series of five webinars, we discussed what good leadership looks like and how bias and hierarchy create barriers to inclusive working.

We asked delegates to reflect in smaller groups on what their own identities mean within the NHS and more widely what opportunities are available to people of colour, people who are disabled, LGBT communities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Outside of the webinars we asked each delegate to consult with three more colleagues and share with us their views on inclusive leadership within the NHS.

Having collected all the feedback, we had a really rich evidence base from which we could develop this report and make our final recommendations.


What was the result?

You can read the full report below.

Download: Inclusive leadership and culture in the NHS (PDF)


What the delegates said:

‘Thanks for giving us the opportunity to be involved in this exciting work. It’s already changed what I’m doing… it’s made me braver’

‘Really positive process.  Thank you so much for including me in it’

‘I enjoyed tremendously the leadership course, met some very inspiring people and the unity and energy to create change has filled me with hope for the future.’

‘Thank you for the opportunity to be involved in this project, it has been a wonderful experience’.

‘… a wonderful experience learning from each other and feeling that the collective insight and input we were gathering will have a real positive impact towards cultural change to promote not only inclusive leadership and within the wider community’.

A huge thanks to all the delegates for their time, energy, and invaluable insights throughout the course of the programme.

If you’d like to explore how Deeds and Words can help you create a culture of inclusive and collective leadership, email us here and we’ll give you a call.

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