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HSE developing training on challenging workplace discrimination

By David Lynch - 03rd Mar 2024

workplace discrimination

Dedicated training courses are “in development” to support HSE managers in establishing “a discrimination-free working environment” and “to challenge negative behaviours”, the Medical Independent (MI) has been informed.

A recent internal HSE survey found some respondents had concerns over the supports to staff in respect of discrimination.

A meeting of the HSE people and culture committee in September heard that services will be supported around issues of race, gender, and age discrimination.

According to meeting minutes, committee members discussed findings from the HSE staff survey Your Opinion Counts 2023.

Members focused on the results on discrimination in the workplace, which found that race, gender, and age were the three highest reported grounds for discrimination.

Committee members were “advised that services will be supported around this and a leadership framework is in development, which will provide guidance in this area”.

The meeting also discussed a finding that some staff believed the overall provision of discrimination supports was “deteriorating”.

Asked what measures had been taken since the meeting, the HSE spokesperson referred to new “dedicated training courses” in development.

Specific measures to address discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, and age are also contained within the HSE Diversity Equality and Inclusion Strategy, the spokesperson stated.

“They include the… provision of advice and guidance to staff and managers on any issue relating to diversity, equality, and inclusion such as discrimination.”

The spokesperson said awareness of “HSE values” relating to challenging discrimination is included in updated induction training for all incoming staff, as well as in e-learning and leadership training for clinical and non-clinical managers across the organisation.

The Your Opinion Counts survey, published in September, found that one in 10 HSE staff “have personally experienced discrimination from the public”.

Additionally, one in 10 had personally experienced discrimination from a colleague.

The September meeting of the people and culture committee also heard just over 12 per cent of HSE staff report having a disability.

This is almost double the percentage recorded in 2018, MI has been told.

Of the 19,591 staff who responded to Your Opinion Counts, 2,419 indicated that they had a disability, according to the meeting minutes.

The HSE stated the definition of disability used in staff surveys is that set out in the Disability Act 2005.

The Act describes disability, in relation to a person, as “a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State, or to participate in social or cultural life in the State, by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment”.

The spokesperson further noted the percentage of employees reporting a disability in the staff survey “has increased consistently” over recent years.

It has risen from 6 per cent in 2018 to the 12.3 per cent cited in 2023.

The spokesperson said that “an extensive programme” of support and awareness raising for staff representing all diversity grounds has been put in place since 2022, as part of its diversity, equality, and inclusion strategy.

“This includes the establishment of a new staff network for employees with a disability and their allies, called the Le Chéile Network.”

According to, the Le Chéile Network acts as a representative voice for staff with visible and invisible disabilities. It is a forum where staff can discuss workplace experiences and a resource on disability-related topics.

The spokesperson also highlighted a series of communications and awareness-raising activities.

These include those associated with International Day for People with a Disability, International Stammering Awareness Day, and National Deaf Awareness Week.

There has also been a set of human resource guidelines on workplace diversity, including a new guideline on reasonable accommodations at work and new e-learning modules to improve knowledge and understanding of diversity issues among all staff in the HSE.

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