More women and ethnic minorities held top roles in Britain’s National Health System (NHS) 15 years ago than today, prompting calls for urgent reform to selection systems.

New data reveals black and minority ethnicities (BAME) occupy only 8 percent of high-ranking roles, despite constituting 19 percent of total NHS staff. The proportion has nearly been halved since its 2010 peak at 15 percent.

The NHS Confederation—representing five-sixths of England’s local health services—produced the report.

Though 77 percent of the NHS’s 1.3 million employees are female, women hold just 38 percent of chair and non-executive directors positions. In comparison women accounted for 47 percent of senior roles in 2002.

Despite initiatives, Britain’s largest employer must also redress salary inequality, as BAME doctors—at both mid- and consultancy-level—earn thousands of pounds less than their white counterparts.

Representative leadership could also effect positive change patient-side.

For instance, BAME women are less likely to receive vital procedures like cervical cancer screenings. Appointing more women, minorities, and minority women to high-powered roles could help orient NHS communication and care around vulnerable, under-serviced demographics.

Should executives match their workforce’s gender distribution?

Or would this entrench industry-specific gender-segregation and deprive professions of the innovation brought by fresh perspectives?


Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.