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Working together on equality, diversity and inclusion for the osteopathic profession

14 December 2021

By Dr Stacey Clift (view more by this author)
Stacey is GOsC's Senior Research and Policy Officer.

Stacey reflects on why the collection of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) data is so important for the GOsC and how we want to collaborate with the profession on this in the coming months.

I’m sure that many of us know that equalities legislation prohibits discrimination in relation to nine protected characteristics, and these include for example race, religion or sexual orientation. But it feels very different when we are asked for our own personal data. This can be a sensitive issue and can sometimes feel intrusive.

The data we hold

At the GOsC, we currently hold very limited information about race and ethnicity. One source which we can refer to is a KPMG report from 2011 which indicated that:

  • 82% of osteopaths described themselves as White
  • 1.4% as mixed
  • 5.3% as Asian or Asian British
  • 1.4% as Black or Black British
  • 1.4% as other; and
  • 8.2% preferred not to say

We also hold very limited information about religion. The same KPMG report indicated that 92% of the osteopathic profession either declared that they were Christian (51%) or had no religious affiliation (41%).

With regard to sexuality, the KPMG report indicates that 4% of the osteopathic profession define themselves as LGBT. We know from sources such as Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain – Work Report (2018), more than a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.

Respondents to our own surveys describing themselves as disabled have never exceeded 5%, yet we know that in the population as a whole, up to 20% of individuals may describe themselves as disabled.

So, what does a lack of information in these areas mean? Amongst many things, it makes it difficult to ensure that the work we do and our processes are fair and free from discrimination.

Why we want to ask EDI questions

It might be helpful for me to explain a little more about why we would like to ask questions in future about EDI and your protected characteristics when you register with us. We want to do this to:

  • Ensure osteopathic education, standards, CPD, and fitness to practise are not having unintended consequences or discriminating against any particular group.
  • Encourage a professional culture that values talent beyond stereotype.
  • Identify opportunities to improve equality so individuals with particular characteristics are not treated differently to others or disadvantaged in any way, providing equal opportunities for all.
  • Minimise the possibility of any particular groups being excluded or being unable to access our services by making sure they are suitable for all.
  • Provide useful information about diversity within the profession, compared to society as a whole.
  • Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those that do not.

Our main aim is to better understand whether we are being inclusive or whether particular regulatory activities are inadvertently discriminatory. For example, we need to reflect together:

“Why is our register not representative of the society we serve?”
“Are any groups disproportionately represented, underrepresented or impacted in applying for registration, our CPD auditing procedures or our fitness to practise activities?”

Pilot: We need your help

We can only begin to answer these questions by updating the data we hold about your protected characteristics so we need your help.

In the future, we hope to ask all osteopaths on the Register to complete or update their EDI information as part of their registration and renewal process.

But before we do this, to help us make sure that we are asking the right questions in the right way for all of you in the osteopathic profession, we will be piloting an EDI survey with a small number of osteopaths from February 2022 onwards.

At the same time we will be running some EDI focus groups to gain your insight and feedback and provide a safe space to share protected characteristics with us, given the sensitivity of the data being requested.

We would be very grateful if you would be willing to take part.

To express an interest in taking part in either (or both) the pilot survey or the focus groups, please contact myself directly: sclift@osteopathy.org.uk

Also, watch out for further details across our communication channels on how you can complete the EDI pilot survey and/or join a focus group.