Human resources has a role in diversity but will not succeed in isolation

Having just attended my organisation’s diversity steering group meeting, I have been reading with interest the debate regarding HR’s role (Personnel Today, 21 August, and Letters, 4 September).

What matters is not organisational position, but outcomes that make a difference to our customers and workforce.

I work in a large Foundation Trust Hospital running four sites across Birmingham with a workforce of 10,000. We serve very diverse communities, dealing with people who are often anxious and vulnerable and have language barriers. Key staff across my trust work together to ensure we have one coherent diversity strategy – HR is at the core of this, along with colleagues from operational areas, patient liaison, translation etc. We have a diversity manager – she does not work for me and that matters not one jot.

I think Trevor Phillips is absolutely right that diversity should not be the sole domain of HR. If we really want to mainstream diversity into the lifeblood of an organisation, we need to engage people working across boundaries. HR does play a very central role, and can help educate others. But HR alone will not be able to make the step change organisations must take to truly embrace diversity.

Mandy Coalter
Director of HR & OD
Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust

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