HIN Publishes Anti-Racism Toolkit

In 2020, the HIN embarked on a journey to becoming an actively anti-racist organisation. This was sparked by the racist murder of George Floyd, which led to global outrage, and was exacerbated by the stark race and health disparities highlighted through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The topic of racism alone is sensitive, interpersonal, and can challenge our traditional ways of thinking. As such, many people find conversations around racism uncomfortable, and it can be difficult to know where to begin.

That is why, following three years of listening and learning, we have published our anti-racism toolkit. The toolkit is aimed at people looking to make changes within their organisation or workplace, and individuals looking to improve their own understanding of racism and take steps to become anti-racist.

It provides practical guidance and support for individuals, organisations and communities who are tackling racism in all its forms. It includes a brief history of racism in the UK, guidance on how to have open and honest conversations about race, what sustainable steps can be taken to tackle racism in your community or workplace and a glossary of key terms.

It follows our organisation-wide anti-racism project which aimed to shift the culture in our work individually, within our teams and ultimately within the communities we serve. You can find out more about our anti-racism project and its outcomes, and access more resources on our anti-racism webpage.

HIN CEO Rishi Das-Gupta said: "We are delighted to publish this toolkit which, builds off our own internal anti-racism program, to help promote anti-racist ways of working in the south London health and care landscape and beyond. I would encourage you to take a look, share with your networks and organisations, and consider what steps you can take to combat racism in your area of work."

Working Together to Tackle Racism in South London

We recently hosted a roundtable event with south London stakeholders on tackling racism in the health and care sector. HIN anti-racism leads Pearl Brathwaite, Adam Ovid and Catherine Dale write about the key themes from the discussion

While racism is unfortunately not a new phenomenon, since 2020 there has been increased attention paid to structural inequalities, the impact of colonialism and the racism experienced by people who are part of ethnic minorities in white-majority countries.

As an academic health science network (AHSN) much of our work involves tackling the health inequalities which exist – and which were highlighted during the pandemic. As such we are in quite a unique position of having a view which cuts across south London’s health and care sectors.

That’s why we brought together people from this community, in particular leaders with health inequality, clinical and managerial roles to discuss opportunities in tackling racism in south London. Organisations represented included South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Mabadaliko, the Greater London Authority GLA), NHS England London Region, and South East and South West London ICSs. Here are some of the examples of what they shared about the work they are doing.

  • South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) has developed its Patient and Care Race Equality Framework in partnership with Lambeth Black Thrive and Croydon BME Forum. This framework exists to eliminate the racial disparity in patient access, experience and outcomes. The initial focus of the work has been on issues which Black communities face. The framework aims to significantly improve trust and confidence in mental health services.
  • Mabadaliko is working with senior leaders and management teams to provide advice and guidance on strategic initiatives in equality, equity and anti-racism objectives and spaces. It supports organisations to develop cultures and programmes aiming to reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in the communities that they serve.
  • The Greater London Authority (GLA), in partnership with the Race Equality Foundation, is establishing a peer learning network ‘Anti-Racism Practice Learning Hub’, involving peers and organisations sharing practice, resources, and support  becoming an effective anti-racist organisation. The GLA has also developed a strategic framework to support London health and care partners to progress towards being anti-racist as an approach to address ethnic disparities.

Thank you to everyone who came and shared their views. Here are just some of the main takeaways.

Bringing in external voices

Bringing together people from outside your organisation can be a highly valuable way of gaining perspective on how your organisation is doing and what can be improved. It provides fresh perspectives, highlight blind spots, and encourage critical self-reflection.

These voices can include expert consultants, community leaders, and individuals with lived experience of racism. The HIN’s work in shaping the discussions we had internally benefited from advice from external sources such as a clinical psychologist specialising in anti-racism and a workforce development consultancy, and other participants reported similar benefits.

These can help challenge existing ways of working. It is often easier for an external expert to be direct and honest about how an organisation is doing. It can be a particularly valuable way of bringing diverse voices to white-led organisations.

However, risks were also identified – external input must be balanced with internal expertise and knowledge to ensure their recommendations are relevant to your organisation. It is also essential to ensure that the involvement of external voices does not become counterproductive. But getting the balance right can provide perspectives which are instrumental in driving change.

Notice who is not in the room

It is crucial to acknowledge who is not present in discussions about anti-racism, as well as who is. Status threats, privilege, and discomfort often prevent people without personal experience of racism from participating.

To overcome these barriers, efforts must be made to notice who is not present and encourage them to become involved – only by doing this can we escape echo chambers and create genuine understanding between people with different experiences. Creating safe spaces, addressing power imbalances, and fostering open dialogue can help bridge this gap and ensure that all perspectives are included.

Reaching beyond your organisation

To make anti-racism efforts impactful, it is crucial to extend beyond one’s own organisation. This requires fostering an appetite for collaborative working and using existing tools and platforms.

Creating sounding boards, which provide opportunities for diverse voices to be heard, can be an effective approach. As can shadow boards, which mirror the work of decision makers and give individuals from underrepresented communities access to important discussions and decision-making processes from the start.

Power and balance

When implementing anti-racism organisational programmes or workforce strategies, it is important to strike a balance between empowering colleagues from ethnic minorities to speak about their experiences and challenge the way things are done, without burdening them with the difficult challenge of tackling institutional racism in addition to their normal work function. To do this there must be an environment where colleagues feel supported and included, with active participation and input from leaders and white colleagues.

Getting names right

Individuals with uncommon or hard-to-pronounce names are often “othered” by having to repeatedly explain how to pronounce their name. But there are simple steps which can be taken to address this.

A number of the participants identified time spent by colleagues understanding how to pronounce people’s names as a way of fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity. Some mentioned a specific workshop where staff discussed their names, correct pronunciation, and shared their experiences as a way of creating a conversation and improving awareness.

Another approach is to implement phonetic pronunciation guides as standard – for example to name badges and pronunciation guides in email signatures – to make things easier for everyone and reduce feelings of exclusion.

Working towards substantive change

To ensure the effectiveness of anti-racism programmes, initiatives should start with self-reflection and dialogue to highlight the problem, clarify the focus and specificity of planned work and garner support for change. To convert this into meaningful long-lasting progress, it is essential to maintain momentum and enthusiasm. To keep the focus on substantive change organisations should set clear goals and time-bound, measurable objectives wherever possible.


Structural and institutional racism in the health and care sectors is not a problem which can be solved overnight, but it is clear there are actions we can all take within our areas of work to create an environment which is inclusive, open and focused on tackling racism.

There was a strong desire among the group for further inter-organisational work to share learning and collaborate on the wider issues of racism, and we look forward to exploring these opportunities. Racism is a current and ongoing problem, and creating an environment where we can have open and honest conversations about it is a crucial first step in changing the culture of our organisations.

What can I do?

  • Engage in conversations in your organisation around race and racism to raise awareness and think about the impact this has on your people and the work that you do.
  • Consult experts to support you, such as Mabaliko, anti-racism experts and internal or external Equality, Diversity & Inclusion consultants who have a particular focus on racial inequality and inequity.
  • Generate commitments for your organisation or teams through engagement with your colleagues. Consider what resources and action you need to develop and sustain these commitments and how you will get there.
  • Read our toolkit for support on how to take action and top tips for keeping focused on change.

Contact Us

Contact us for more information about the journey we are on as we aim to be an anti-racist organisation.

Get in touch

Four Lessons from our Anti-Racism Project

Our anti-racism project is co-led by Catherine Dale, Programme Director of Patient Safety and Pearl Brathwaite, Project Manager in our Accelerated Access Collaborative team. We hear from Pearl and our CEO Rishi Das-Gupta on what they have learnt from the project since its inception in December 2021.

1. Sometimes you don’t know you have a problem until you talk about it.

The HIN is a great place to work, and we employ people who commit to our values and want to improve care and health for all. We have an agreeable environment, but recognise that our teams don't yet reflect the diversity our local south London community.

What we’ve realised is that sometimes you don’t know you have a problem until you talk about it. We started a conversation following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, speaking to staff to understand the impact of race and racism on people working in the HIN and the communities we work with and serve.

We realised that our individual experiences of life, work and community have been and continue to be impacted by race, and that we wouldn’t have spoken about it without this opportunity.

2. It starts with conversations in a safe space.

Our underlying approach has been to create a psychologically safe space which embodies the HIN values of being brave, open, together, kind, and different. We listened to perspectives from across the organisation. We discussed case studies, stories, and relevant news to highlight the issues and understand how our perspectives differ as a result of our experiences.

To aid internal discussion, we used a liberating structure framework to encourage the various themes to ask three questions: What? So What? Now What?. This structure is designed to help facilitate the gathering of facts ("what?"), make sense of those facts ("so what?"), and understand what we can do next ("now what?").

This worked well for us because our teams tend to want to fix problems. Teams identified a challenge in moving to action and the "now what?" too quickly, because of the vast amounts to explore in the "what (is the issue)"’ and the "so what (why is it important)?".

Practically it takes time to have these conversations and we had to set aside time to do this. This meant that we were making an active choice to engage in this work and appointed a trusted external facilitator to guide some of these organisation-wide conversations.

The series of conversations were:

  • How we talk about our ambitions in becoming an anti-racist organisation;
  • How we talk about the impact of racism on individuals and the community that we serve;
  • How we seek to influence others, in our everyday lives and outside of the HIN.

3. Expect the conversation to be difficult at first, but easier over time

This topic brings people's experience to the fore. It helps to be clear that this can be an emotive and deeply personal subject… so it will probably make people uncomfortable. It challenged our unconscious bias and beckoned us to become vulnerable and open to change.

There still exists a general worry around terminology, fear of getting it wrong and a fear of destabilising something that is working. Language is important and can trigger emotional responses, so it was important to recognise that we might make missteps and invite people to talk about the impact of language use on them. When it came to language, we wanted to agree a common terminology that we use to talk about this. Black and Asian Ethnic Minority, Minority Ethnic, BAME and Global Majority are some of the terms we have collectively chosen and discussed. We are still learning. 

We have heard from a colleague, who took a secondment before the anti-racism programme launched, about the impact she noticed on returning to the organisation. She observes that the values of the organisation are the same, but we now have deeper and more confident conversations about race, racism and health inequality.

4. Recognising progress keeps everyone going

On this journey we need to stay motivated. We did this by sharing progress with our colleagues and keeping up to date with our commitments, vision, and ambitions for the organisation. We asked ourselves:

  • Is this sort of change measurable? Changes are incremental, and we are committed to seeing constant change in our meetings, projects and interactions, as opposed to one standalone project.
  • What metrics should we set and why? Measuring change is important to keep enthusiasm for the programme and to justify ongoing focus, commitment, and budget. Our evaluation team is helping to capture change via quantitative and qualitative means.
  • What about the change that can’t be measured? When we hear conversations have gone well, we reflect and highlight good practice. A recent example, as shared by Rishi, is a training opportunity that was shared with leadership only. However, as the leadership team is not very diverse we decided to share the training more broadly to give the opportunity to a wider group of applicants. This is not a conversation or decision that would have taken place without our anti-racism work.

Change is incremental and we need to take stock from time to time. Though we have highlighted the impact of talking and having conversations, we recognise it doesn’t end here. After listening to views from across the organisation we have been able to identify action that is needed to make incremental change. We will move safely towards this.

We hope to share more with you as the work progresses.

Rishi and Pearl