Wednesday November 24, 2021: St John Ambulance has appointed an award-winning diversity expert as its Head of Equity and Inclusion.
Kal Parkash leaves her most recent role as head of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust with more than 25 years’ experience in the field.
She has led pioneering work to improve diversity within a range of public sector organisations including the NHS, police, local authorities and Ministry of Defence. Four of her roles were the first of their kind within the organisations.
In 2018, Kal was among those recognised in both the Excellence in Diversity Awards and Race for Opportunity Awards for initiatives at West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces – where there was an almost tenfold increase in the number of people recruited from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Measures to achieve this included visits to religious and community venues to allay concerns about joining the police and setting up a buddy system to support applicants through the process. A diversity group across both police forces was named finalist in the award category ‘Outstanding Diversity Network’.
Taking up her new position with St John this month, Kal said: “I am really looking forward to meeting the wonderful St John volunteers and staff to strengthen the work already underway to improve equality diversity and inclusion at the charity.
“At work, we need compassionate and inclusive leaders, creating an environment of fairness, respect and individuality. We all have a responsibility to understand our unconscious biases and prejudices and recognise how these can have an impact on others and therefore, educate ourselves change our behaviours.”
“My firm belief is that every one of us has a critical role to play in embedding equity and inclusion as allies, standing shoulder to shoulder with our most marginalised and vulnerable communities. It is important that we all feel safe to be our authentic self at all times, to enable us to thrive.”
Kal’s work with local authorities has also included developing the first multi-agency protocol to tackle hate crime in Shropshire.
In the last 12 months, as part of its culture change programme, St John has launched five ‘Celebrating Communities’ networks: Women, Pride, Accessibility, Carers and Family and Multi-Culture. The networks aim to provide safe and supportive spaces for St John volunteers and employees from marginalised or minoritised communities. Activities include sharing experiences, reviewing policies and organising social events.