Workforce Mutuality Project
In 2016, members of HealthWest Partnership raised concerns that the diversity of the community in the West was not being reflected enough in the health and community sector workforce. There is a lot of evidence that shows when the workforce of the health and community sector is in synch with diversity of the community it services, many health indicators go up.
At HealthWest we are using the concept of workforce mutuality to describe
the extent to which the diversity of the workforce of an organisation or a sector reflects the actual diversity of the community.
The term “workforce mutuality” has been specifically chosen to be inclusive of a whole range of aspects of people’s diversity: cultural and linguistic, gender, sexual, ability and so on.
A health and community workforce with high mutuality increases the effectiveness of organisations to support consumers from diverse backgrounds, while improving the social determinants of health by creating new employment pathways and greater engagement with community. Workforce mutuality is therefore mutually reinforcing for both the community and for health and community organisations.
The diversity of the health and community services organisations in Melbourne’s west falls short of the actual diversity of the community. HealthWest Partnership has therefore identified increasing the workforce mutuality of our membership as a key priority in our Strategic Plan 2017-19.
Watch this video introducing Workforce Mutuality
Why does workforce diversity matter? Better access and delivery of services, increased satisfaction for consumers, better health outcomes, more jobs for everyone – these are just some of the benefits members of the Workforce Mutuality Expert Advisory Panel describe when our workforce better matches the diversity of the community.
The HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality
Since this priority was agreed on by members of HealthWest Partnership, HealthWest has been working on a set of Standards designed to support our member organisations – and any other organisations that are interested – in building more inclusive employment pathways with the community, and in making their services more responsive to the needs of a hugely diverse community.
In May 2018 we launched the HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality at the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria’s state conference. The Standards were developed with the support of an Expert Advisory Panel made up of HealthWest member organisations and peak bodies across the health, community, employment, higher education and corporate sectors. Beginning in July 2018 we have been trialling the Standards with a group of five piloting organisations including Bolton Clarke, cohealth, commUnity+, IPC Health and Tweddle Child and Family Health Service. The pilot phase of the Standards will be complete by the end of 2018, and will inform the next steps that HealthWest takes in the space of workforce mutuality in Melbourne’s west.
More info: Curious about workforce mutuality? Martin Plowman shares a little of his background and his passion and explains why the term “workforce mutuality” was coined in this interview – Talking about diversity, mutuality and health.
Completion of pilot phase of Workforce Mutuality project
The pilot phase of HealthWest Partnership’s Workforce Mutuality project is now complete, marking the culmination of over two years of work from HealthWest and our partners.
The Workforce Mutuality project began in 2016 when HealthWest’s member organisations alerted us to a “diversity gap” that existed between the diversity of the community across Melbourne’s west and the relative lack of diversity in the workforce of the health and community sectors. To frame our approach to addressing this gap, the concept of “workforce mutuality” was developed at HealthWest. Beginning in 2017, we convened an Expert Advisory Panel of industry leaders from the health, community, employment services, higher education and corporate sectors. Working together, we developed the HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality, a key tool designed to guide organisations through the process of improving their mutuality with the community. The Standards were publicly launched at the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria’s state-wide conference in May 2018.
Following the launch, HealthWest piloted the Standards with five organisations including Bolton Clarke, cohealth, commUnity+, IPC Health and Tweddle Child and Family Service (pictured left and below). Piloting agencies were asked to assess the Standards across three dimensions: Fitness for Purpose, Effectiveness and Feasibility of Self-Assessment. The results have been a overwhelmingly positive, with the pilot group awarding a rating of “Good” for each of the key dimensions. Feedback also highlighted how easy it was for organisations to pick up and use the Standards straightaway, and how there was great potential for the Standards to make an impact in other sectors such as the government and corporate sectors. Most impressively, the pilot group had already begun building the Standards into their own goals and objectives before the pilot had concluded – one organisation incorporated workforce mutuality into their latest strategic plan, while another developed an entire standalone Workforce Mutuality Action Plan.
HealthWest is now planning for the next phase of our work in workforce mutuality for 2019. The Standards are in the public domain and are available for free download from the HealthWest Partnership website. All organisations and individuals are welcome to use the Standards.
Download a free copy of The HealthWest Partnership Standards for Workforce Mutuality here.
Please read our Position Statement on Workforce Mutuality here.
Mindy Allott, Systems Integration Manager
Phone 9248 9658 or Mindy.Allott@healthwest.org.au