D&I in healthtech: Ways to be a good ally

Key takeaways from our London Tech Week event with NHSX, Tech4CV19 and the Department for International Trade.

In partnership with volunteer-led healthtech community Tech4CV19, for London Tech Week, techUK hosted a webinar on Tuesday 8 September discussing the topic of diversity and inclusion in healthtech and ways to be a good ally. For this session, we were joined by expert panellists:

  • Sonia Patel, Chief Information Officer, NHSX
  • Dr Sam Shah, Global Clinical and Digital Advisor; NHS Consultant; previously Director of Digital Development for NHSX. 
  • Hassan Chaudhury, Digital Health Lead at Healthcare UK, Department of International Trade; Cofounder, Tech4CV19
  • Nimmi Patel, Policy Manager, Skills, Talent & Diversity, techUK (Moderator)

Anyone can be an ally

The fascinating conversation explored what an ally is, why we need allies and how to become one, both as an individual and as an organisation, and looked at how we can further diversity and inclusion in our personal and professional lives. Allies were identified as individuals who are willing to listen to people and communities that are different from them, but also reflect on, understand, and act on that listening. They were seen as those who can recognise inequality and privilege – and the systems in which they exist and their own position within them – providing advocacy and lifting others to share opportunities for growth with a diversity of people. Panellists highlighted that these allies must be considerate of the unconscious biases which sit within all of us and continually test themselves to understand why their allyship exists to ensure it is both authentic and proactive.

How can organisations be good allies?

In organisations, speakers emphasised belonging as a concept beyond typical EDI considerations. It is one thing to argue you offer equal opportunities and demonstrate your diversity, but it is quite another for colleagues to feel like they belong. To bring this about, the discussion raised the need for more allies at the board level – particularly in the public sector – to diffuse cultural change, whilst panellists also drew attention to the value of tools such as reverse mentoring which can foster greater understanding in organisations. Diversity and inclusion was identified as a silver thread that should run through everything organisations do, from internal culture to inclusive product and technology offerings, requiring a serious commitment and investment but one that can yield great benefits for organisations that take this work forward.

A role to play

Allyship is a personal commitment that starts again every day, said one attendee, and it means making a choice to do something with the position and privilege that you have about things that are not right or are unfair. It is something that needs to happen at different levels, from the top down and the bottom up, in different ways in order to make fundamental change and further this agenda; and we all have a role to play.

If you would like to continue the conversation, please contact Jake Wall or Nimmi Patel from techUK's Policy Team, or Leontina Postelnicu from techUK's Health and Social Care team.

Nimmi Patel

Nimmi Patel

Policy Manager, Skills, Talent and Diversity, techUK

Nimmi Patel is the Policy Manager for Skills, Talent and Diversity at techUK.

She works on all things skills policy, focusing on upskilling and retrain. She is committed to embedding diversity in the UK tech pipeline from classroom to boardroom working with partners such as the Tech Talent Charter and the WISE Campaign. Nimmi also leads techUK’s immigration work, collaborating with techUK members and stakeholders to create an environment that attracts the best talent to the UK.

Prior to joining the team, she worked for the UK Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party and holds a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester and is currently studying MA Strategic Communications at King’s College London.

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Leontina Postelnicu

Leontina Postelnicu

Programme Manager, Health and Social Care, techUK

Leontina joined techUK in March 2020, where she is supporting the organisation’s Health and Social Care programme. At the moment, she is completing an MSc in Health Policy at Imperial College London.

A former journalist, Leontina previously worked for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as an associate editor for its International and Media divisions. There, she covered the EMEA region for Healthcare IT News, MobiHealthNews and HIMSS TV, with a focus on policy and innovation, and contributed to the Women in Health IT newsletter and HIMSS Insights eBook.

Outside of work, she enjoys reading, dancing, travelling and visiting her family in Romania, where she hails from.

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Jake Wall

Jake Wall

Programme Assistant, Policy, techUK

Jake is the Programme Assistant for Policy, assisting techUK's work across its Policy and Public Affairs; Skills, Talent and Diversity; and Data functions.

He joined techUK in March 2019 following his graduation from a master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Sussex, as well as a bachelor’s degree in International Politics at Aberystwyth University, and has also worked across the EU Exit, International Trade and Cloud, Data Analytics and AI programmes. Outside of work, he enjoys watching and playing sport, spending time with friends and family, and – when possible – travelling!

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