My experiences of setting up Yeovil District Hospital’s Staff Diversity Network

Photo of Erk Gunce, the South West Leadership Academy's Inclusion Coordinator, smiling.

Foreword from Erk Gunce (pronouns: him/he/his)

Inclusion Coordinator, NHS South West Leadership Academy


In this article of our Inclusion Corner, Emma, Diversity and Inclusion Lead from Yeovil District Hospital, shares her experiences of setting up Staff Diversity Networks for the trust. Staff diversity networks are fundamental enablers of staff belonging. They must be closely interwoven with an organisation’s governance structure, so that staff networks can inform all decisions made at the senior level. I am so excited for Yeovil District Hospital on their milestone and look forward to sharing good practice as to how staff networks support leadership development and inclusion.


Photo of Emma Symonds, the author of the blog and Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Yeovil District Hospital, smiling.

Emma Symonds (Pronouns: she/her)

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Yeovil District Hospital

Hello, my name is Emma and I am the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Yeovil District Hospital. Yeovil District Hospital is an incredibly diverse place to work, boasting 64 Ethnicities amongst other under-represented groups.

Being able to share, listen and advocate for change is essential for our colleagues’ wellbeing, for them to achieve their career aspirations and to feel valued as individuals. With this in mind, we have promoted and supported the uptake of Staff-led Networks.

We have a Minority Ethnics Network which has gone from strength to strength through the efforts of the Network Executive Committee. The Minority Ethnic Network offers evening drop-in sessions, features local and external speakers, historical education events and career advice. We also set up a Women’s Network, which has been very popular. The Women’s network offers opportunities of mentorship, collaboration, education and advocacy of change in areas of family friendly policy & procedures, gender pay gap, menopause support and advice.

We have considered the challenges our colleagues may face at work. It became clear that there are many areas of one’s life that overlap. By supporting a Network which allows people to contribute intersectionally, we inspired breadth of knowledge, awareness and passion. Many of our colleagues often feel that they fall between the cracks of awareness and may share lived experiences with a minority of peers or colleagues. This prompted the development of the Staff Diversity Network. This network offers intersectional support and guidance for those who are protected under the Equality act as a whole. The Diversity network is an umbrella support system for those who identify or may be representative of the Nine Protected Characteristics: Age, Sex, Marriage, Pregnancy/Maternity, Gender reassignment, Sexual Orientation, Race, Religion/Belief and Disability.

As a mixed race Woman (Black Caribbean/White) with Hidden Disabilities, I can appreciate what many of our colleagues feel. I find comfort and support in a network which supports my ethnicity and the challenges that brings. I feel that I am able to advocate change and support the Yeovil District Hospital’s disability agenda. Being a woman, I want to feel empowered or empower my colleagues.

Our first meeting of The Staff Diversity Network took place on the 30 March 2021. We had attendance from staff with diverse backgrounds, abilities and interests. They shared their thoughts on what was important to them, what changes they want to see and how they could play a role in that as core members (executive committee members).

We talked about Transgender awareness and how we can raise awareness and advocate for change and acceptance for both staff and patients. We also explored how to develop and welcome our overseas nurses & doctors. We discussed ways of developing engaging streams of communication between the networks and the workforce, whilst collaborating with other Inclusion partners and how we can break down perceptions and bias in the workforce but also in our patients.

I believe that Yeovil District Hospital offers a unique perspective for our staff who contribute as core members of the Diversity network and for those who feel affiliated to a specific piece of work. The opportunity to learn and appreciate another member’s unique abilities and skills, whether it be a hearing impairment, a long term condition or an understanding of life as an LGBT person. All while working together towards a shared goal.

I am incredibly excited about the future of the Diversity Network as well as our other Networks, as I know that the people who joined our launch event were just as passionate as I was.

Please contact me on to share good practice on developing staff networks or to explore opportunities to collaborate.

A range of symbols portraying different protected characteristicsL age, disability, pregnancy, marriage, race, religion and belief, gender and sexuality



I joined simply to ensure that everyone is able to see YDH more as their home, within a supportive and caring family.

-Adan Sharpe, Core Committee member


Logo of Yeovil Hospital Healthcare

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