From the Chief Executive, November 2019

Sarb Bajwa writes.

Analysis of our membership survey has continued over recent weeks, and we shared some detailed findings with member network representatives at our recent Senate meeting.

The survey was comprehensive and wide-ranging, and it’s impossible to cover it all in one column, but some alarming results relating to equality and inclusion in our profession have emerged which I believe our members need to know about.

The results provide empirical support for what many of you have been telling me and the Society anecdotally, and I hope that they provide a starting point for achieving meaningful change.

We asked respondents to tell us about their income, and the results have shown a significant gender wage gap, around £13,000 on average. This is clearly an unacceptable situation, and can partly be explained by another finding – male psychologists are around nine per cent more likely to hold senior leadership and management roles.

This would be an unacceptable state of affairs for any profession. But when, based on the survey data, three quarters of our members identify as female, it suggests that leadership in psychology is not currently reflective of psychologists in the UK.

A similar picture emerges when looking at the responses to our questions on ethnicity. Our BAME respondents, on average, earn less and occupy fewer leadership positions. We also know from national figures that the success rates for applications to professional psychology training programmes are significantly lower for BAME applicants.

We don’t just need more psychologists in leadership positions, particularly in the NHS, but we need them to represent the diversity of both psychology and the public that we provide services to.

Recognising the need for action, our Board of Trustees recently agreed to a proposal by our President David Murphy to set up a task force which will make recommendations on how we can become a more welcoming place for members of minority and marginalised groups, and how we can promote diversity and inclusion within psychology. It will start by listening to members’ experiences and ideas for improvement, and build on the many positive developments already happening within our member network structure.

I know that this is something members care deeply about, so please look out for updates, details on the recruitment of members for the task force and news of a listening event in the near future.

- Sarb Bajwa is Chief Executive of the British Psychological Society. Contact him at [email protected]

BPS Members can discuss this article

Already a member? Or Create an account

Not a member? Find out about becoming a member or subscriber