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Consider being a BAME Champion

28 July, 2020

Author: Munisha Ghattaure is a specialist therapeutic radiographer at Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, who qualified in 2007.

As part of her specialism role, Munisha is the BAME Champion for her department. She attended a leadership conference where it was recognised that having a champion would be useful to help raise awareness and education across the trust, to help address the disproportionate experience of BAME staff. 

Munisha said, "The role is about having a representative who staff can approach. As a member of the core BAME network in the trust, I help set up more champions. I promote the network and share information and knowledge that may be relevant to staff, such as training courses.

"The role is also about supporting non-BAME staff to understand the issues that BAME colleagues may face."

Another part of Munisha's specialism role is as a development coach, where she supports staff in the department towards their goals. This is done through various listening and questioning techniques and using coaching models to guide the conversation.

"It helps to equip the staff with necessary tools/actions they may require to achieve their goals," she said.

"I feel very lucky in my career to find two aspects that I am extremely passionate about alongside my role as a therapeutic radiographer. I find it very rewarding that the work I am doing not only makes a difference to the patients but the staff too. It means that I can do a job that works in line with my values and having this purpose is what helps drive me further in my career."

The pandemic has had an impact on Munisha and her job: "Due to an underlying health condition I am currently non-patient facing, which has been difficult as I have been unable to do my normal day to day job. Initially this I felt like I lost my sense of worth at work a little because I really wanted to help but couldn’t. It was difficult to be torn between putting my health first and the job I do," she commented.

"I am currently doing telephone information chats for first and last day information. This involves discussing with patients what to expect when they come for radiotherapy and what to expect after they finish.

"I feel like we have had to just take each day as it comes with the constant changes especially in the beginning. This period has also given me a lot of time to reflect and think about what is most important to me."

Do you think your ethnicity has made a difference to your career progression?

"Not directly, but I think it has influenced it in some way. I have previously been for Band 7 jobs in my department which I didn’t get. I ended up losing my confidence and feeling like I wasn’t good enough, when going through that experience, I also lost my purpose and drive towards my role.

"However, this was prior to my specialist roles. Last year, I attended the Moving Forward Programme, a leadership initiative specifically for BAME staff in the trust. I feel like this course has helped to increase my confidence but has also given me the necessary tools to develop my career further. It was exactly what I needed to help me reflect and think about what I really wanted."

Munisha says being brought up in an Indian background, although her parents were not strict, her grandfather was a strong influence.

"I was brought up to believe that education was everything and being a professional such as a doctor or a lawyer for example, was very important. I came to a point in my career where I had completed my MSc and the next natural step was to try and get a promotion as a Band 7.

"In our culture, and this maybe similar for many others, we are taught to get an education, get married and have kids, keep thinking about the next step without pausing, and think about if that is what you really want and if that’s actually what you need to in your life to be happy or fulfilled."

Has she suffered discrimination?

"Throughout my life I have been subjected to some discrimination whether it has been called a Paki, or treated differently because of the colour of my skin.

"This was more present in my earlier years. I had witnessed a friend being beaten up in school because of the colour of his skin. During my years of adulthood I became more aware of the discrimination between different ethnic groups. I have also come across incidences at work where people have said things that have been inappropriate and offensive, without appreciating the impact of this on the recipient," she continued.

"I am more aware of the issues faced by BAME staff because of the role I am in. Prior to this I didn’t realise the issues were still apparent. However, I would like to say I have a very supportive management team in relation to these issues who are very positively engaging to help improve things.

"The BAME core network are working tirelessly to ensure we can address these issues and improve the experiences for BAME staff to ensure the organisation fully enjoys the benefits of a diverse workforce."

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