The strategy, which is available to read at: www.rcvs.org.uk/diversity, lists six areas where the College and other DIG member organisations can work to improve diversity and inclusion within the veterinary professions at all stages – from school-age children who may be considering a career in the veterinary professions, to engendering positive culture change for those already in the professions.
The six areas are:
The RCVS Diversity & Inclusion Group includes representation from the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS), British Veterinary Association (BVA), the British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society (BVEDS), the British Veterinary LGBT+ Society, the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), the Major Employers Group, the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) and will be responsible for monitoring and evaluating progress within each of the above areas.
Dr Niall Connell, Senior Vice-President of the RCVS and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Group, said: "I’ve always been of the opinion that making the veterinary professions more diverse and reflective of British society at large, as well as protecting fellow professionals from discrimination, isn’t just a moral issue, but one that actually improves the quality of the profession and the outcomes we are delivering for our clients and patients.
"If we are losing colleagues to discrimination or just not attracting people from diverse backgrounds in the first place because they think it’s ‘not for people like them’, then we are losing out as a profession, and if we aren’t drawing on a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and attitudes in our work, then we are also potentially doing a disservice to our patients and clients. This is why this Strategy is not just a case of being seen to be doing something, but is actually crucial for the ongoing vitality and credibility of the veterinary team.
"It’s important to emphasise that this Strategy is a start, and not an end in and of itself. There will be lots of hard work to be done and challenging conversations to be had, and results may not be quick or immediately obvious, but I am proud that we are taking a proactive approach and not just saying ‘things will change with time’.
Dr Mandisa Greene, RCVS President and a member of the DIG, added: “Fulfilling this Strategy will involve a lot of hard work over the coming months and years but I am glad to say that many of the activities it outlines are already underway both at the RCVS and our partner organisations, building on the pioneering work that organisations such as the British Veterinary Association, British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society, the British Veterinary LGBT+ Society, Animal Aspirations and others have been undertaking.
“For example, we have already held a joint RCVS and Veterinary Schools Council Roundtable with BAME students in which we heard about their experiences, issues that they have encountered and how they felt they could be better supported. These discussions led to the formation of a new RCVS/VSC Working Group that will take forward actions as a priority.
"Our Mind Matters Initiative has also funded a vital piece of research being undertaken by BVEDS and the Royal Veterinary College on the impact of racism on the mental health of BAME veterinary professionals which will no doubt highlight some critical actions to take to better protect members of the professions from discrimination and improve how discrimination is reported and dealt with.
“On a personal level, I have also been undertaking a number of school talks and providing one-to-one mentoring to school students about veterinary careers because I think it is important that children from a wide variety of backgrounds can see me, as a Black British woman of Caribbean heritage, as a role-model for diversity within the veterinary profession and know that the professions can and should be welcoming to all.”
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