Not an optional add on: Wellbeing and Diversity is core for leadership and delivery

18/11/2022 - Humza Yousaf MSP Not an optional add on: Wellbeing and Diversity is core for leadership and delivery

By Humza Yousaf MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care

When I meet the workforce across health, social care and social work sectors, I hear you.

You are clear with me that the last two years have especially been tiring and challenging. This is why looking after your wellbeing is pivotal for the Scottish Government so that you can continue to deliver the best care for people across Scotland. You also have been clear about the need to improve the workforce experience for the whole workforce including those from minority backgrounds. This starts with changing culture in terms of how we deliver and how we lead.   

So let me, as a diverse leader myself, equally be clear now and for the future that wellbeing and diversity are not and will not be optional add ons. They are and must be at the very core for leading and delivering across health, social work and social care sectors in Scotland. 

So what can we collectively do now to turn these words of commitments into action for change?

The Scottish Government will soon be launching the Improving Wellbeing and Workforce Cultures Strategy. Wellbeing, Leadership and Equalities form the three pillars of the strategy. The strategy will make it clear that we want to support the development of diverse leaders at all levels of organisations across health, social work and social care. Diverse leaders that ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to delivering kind, compassionate and collaborative leadership that instils both wellbeing and diversity at the centre of their leadership practice.   

So my first challenge is to all the line managers reading this blog. Please talk to your staff about their wellbeing and support them using all the National Wellbeing Hub has to offer. Please also keep alert for opportunities to demonstrate compassionate and collaborative leadership amongst your teams, organisations and the wider system to which we so proudly all belong.

Too often, I am in meetings or at events with not enough diversity in the room. I have spoken to many people who work or receive care across our sectors who have told me that they do not see enough people who look like them or that can relate to them especially in senior positions. The strategy also outlines our clear and non-negotiable commitment to diversifying the workforce and our robust plans to achieve this. 

That is why the Leading to Change programme itself and the related Diversity Blog Series is essential. We want to profile diverse leaders at all levels and across sectors so that they can act as role models for others to aspire and be supported to develop in their careers. This will have a huge impact not only for improving the workforce experience for everyone that work in these sectors but also improve the quality of care provided to people across Scotland. Everyone has a role to play towards achieving this – collectively as organisations and individually as colleagues and leaders working in and across the system.         

I was pleased to launch the programme last month and am grateful to the almost 1,000 colleagues who have already engaged through the summer engagement events and the launch event. There are a range of opportunities for leaders at all levels across health, social work and social care sectors to participate. This includes the development of leadership success profiles, related learning and development opportunities or the tailored and targeted interventions relating to equalities.      

Again, through this blog, I am setting a second challenge to the collective leadership of all organisations across health, social work and social care sectors to engage themselves and their workforces with the programme. I think back to the key moments in my leadership journey when ‘allies’ were present to help guide and support me. In that same spirit, I appeal to everyone working in health, social work and social care to become ‘Active Allies’ to proactively look out for a colleague from a diverse background and proactively support them with their leadership and career journeys.

There is a lot of learning to gain in doing this including ensuring lived experiences enrich thinking and broaden perspectives for decision making. We would also appreciate hearing your voices and experiences of engaging with the programme so please do share your feedback, stories and comments through the various communication and feedback channels the programme offers.     

Reflective Challenge – What actions can you take for your own self leadership to show up as this kind of leader?

We’d like to thank Humza Yousaf MSP for writing this guest blog which is part of the Leading to Change Diversity Blog Series. We want to highlight and promote the voices and experiences of diverse leaders at all levels including those working at frontline / grassroots levels. We aim to celebrate diverse leaders who can act as role models for other aspiring, diverse leaders.

Humza Yousaf MSP

Humza Yousaf was born in Glasgow on April 7, 1985. He was educated at Hutchesons’ Grammar School and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a degree in Politics. He is also an alumnus of the US State Department’s prestigious International Visitor Learning Programme.

He went on to work in the Scottish Parliament as an aide to the late Bashir Ahmad MSP and was elected as an MSP for the Glasgow region in May 2011, and to the constituency of Glasgow Pollok since 2016.

Humza has held a number of ministerial positions in the Scottish Government since 2012, and joined cabinet in June 2018 as Cabinet Secretary for Justice. He was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care in May 2021.

All information regarding our contributors was correct at the time of publishing.

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