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The finance team at Airedale NHS Foundation trust are national winners – having won a Diversity and inclusion award for their outstanding work.

The National Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Award – in a new Diversity and inclusion category for 2021 – is made to a team working together in partnership that have introduced a change that has positively contributed to the diversity and inclusion within their finance departments. The aim of the award is to promote a strong, effective and embedded approach to diversity and inclusion.

Improving diversity and inclusion within finance teams has been prioritised nationally and it is an agenda that has been embraced by Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, where diversity ambassadors are helping to make significant improvements across the team over the past 18 months.

Diversity has been improved by proactive recruitment, with a team passionate about the agenda and aware of the benefits of having diverse opinions in decision making. Diversity and inclusion ambassadors have played a big role – and the trust has three. As one of the first providers to have such ambassadors, efforts were made to ensure they had a voice and were able to suggest changes.

The trust has created apprenticeships and shadowing opportunities, empowered people to make changes in their roles, and has a finance director who is leading the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda across the West Yorkshire health system.

The finance team make conversations about diversity and inclusion the norm.  They’ve also set a list of objectives to maintain and improve their diversity position for years to come which including engaging with local schools and colleges to raise awareness of careers in finance in the NHS and attracting more of our local population to the team.

The team is also committed to understanding how financial information and training is accessible to all and have started work with the Trust’s disability network to understand this in more detail and adjust products as needed.

The judges said the Airedale team was ‘passionate’ and showed ‘real commitment’ to the agenda. ‘They were working inside and outside their organisation and looking to make change sustainable.’ ‘The senior team is engaged and leading by example,’ they said. ‘This was a really, really great submission.’

Farida Khawaja, Deputy Director of Finance at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:

“We are really proud of the work we’re doing; I feel it has really put Airedale on the map and we are attracting really good calibre candidates because it is such a great place to work. The reason I like working here is because of the inclusive culture and it’s really empowering when you join just how warm and welcoming everyone is.  That’s been one of the successes of the diversity and inclusion work and I’m excited about what we’re doing next.  We’ve already been approached by different trusts to learn from what we’ve done and we are sharing our success stories with other finance organisations.”

Amy Whitaker, Director of Finance at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:

“I’m exceptionally proud of the team for winning this award. We are now known for our diversity and inclusion agenda and hopefully this award will amplify that.  Diversity and inclusion is at the core of our work and is a key part of our future strategy for our team and for the trust.  We value all our people by promoting a positive and inclusive culture and working environment that allows everyone to thrive and flourish.”

You can read a summary of the winners here