Priya David

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Health and Wellbeing (2022 cohort)

The annual census conducted by DfE in September 2019 of social care workforce ethnicity indicates 78% to be white, 12% black, 6% Asian, and 4% mixed. A survey of Directors of Children Services in 2020 reveals that out of 94 DCSs who provided data, 94% identified as white British (84%), white Irish (3%) or other white (7%). Only 1% identified as black African, with the same percentage for black Caribbean and white and Asian. This disparity between the ethnic and racial composition of the overall workforce and senior management brings to question the profession's commitment to equality and diversity.

The recent backdrop of the global Coronavirus pandemic exposing the systemic impact of disadvantage on health outcomes (The Health Foundation 2020) and the murder of George Floyd has created a perfect storm to push social care organisations to acknowledge institutional, inherent, systemic bias and its consequences for people of colour. Scholars in their attempt to explore the reasons for these disparities have highlighted arguments around multi-culturalism, post-racial society, immigration, and manifestation of problematic individual behaviour to have ignored the role of institutional and structural racism (Salisbury 2020 & Dominelli 2018). Reassuringly there are recent efforts appropriated to enable white leaders to understand the enormity of the problem and the urgency of change needed. Hence the researcher aims to conduct a qualitative study on the racial inequality in senior leadership in social care organisations, with a view to explore behaviours, discourses and social processes of the organisational culture that maintains the current status quo or have strived to make a difference.

I am an Improvement consultant in social work having many years of front line management in Children services. My interest in the research stemmed from my interest in diaspora social work issues. This was borne out of my own experience of being an overseas social worker who came to the UK in 2004 from the Middle East. My expectation of coming to UK was not only aimed at better career prospects and progression but also hoped to contribute my experiences gained in India and Middle East to the UK system. However, mine and other Black and Asian managers’ experience has been sadly frustrating with little recognition given to the wealth of knowledge and experiences diaspora social workers bring.. This influenced my decision in 2008 to move into management despite several hurdles. The fundamental purpose of this decision was to support and influence decisions for the communities I represent. In 2019 I joined the International Committee of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). I brought to the agenda of the committee the need for BASW to recognise not only the presence of a huge cohort of diaspora social workers in UK but also their difficulties as well as their experiences of being unequally treated compared to their white colleagues. I lead on this initiative for BASW and I was instrumental in sending into a survey questionnaire to all diaspora social workers in UK on March 2021. The survey helped to inform BASW of/about the need to address and support the second class treatment faced by diaspora social workers including encountering a glass ceiling in terms of progression. I also presented the issue in the BASW AGM held in Oct 2021 and a motion was approved to set up a Special Interest Group to inform practice and policy around various diaspora issues, including the glass ceiling faced by diaspora managers. I am the co-chair of the SIG. The SIG has a met with the Department of Health and Social care to address concerns by diaspora members about recruitment and induction. This collaboration has helped the DHSC to revise the ethical code to name social workers and highlight the responsibility of local authorities in recruiting ethically. The group is currently working on standardising an induction package for overseas recruited social workers.