Oyebanji (Banji) Adewumi has been named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Year’s Honours for her services to the NHS and diversity.
Driving the EDI agenda
A third generation public sector worker – her grandfather worked in the railways in Nigeria and her mother trained and worked as a nurse in Nigeria and then in England – Banji first worked in the civil service, then later moved to work in a London local authority as the corporate policy lead for equalities.
After six years, she was looking for a new challenge, so she moved to Whipps Cross Hospital in 2010 to take on the role of equalities officer, after a friend suggested she apply. Following the creation of the new Barts Health NHS Trust in 2012, Banji was then appointed to the new role of associate director for inclusion at the Trust.
By allowing our staff to be who they are, only then can we provide patients with the best care possible.
She explains: “The area I work in is a far cry from chemistry, which I studied at university, however the analytical skills come in handy. I absolutely love the work I do and am passionate about improving equality, inclusion and diversity within the NHS and now, within the university. For me, no matter where a person works, they deserve to be treated fairly, no matter where they are from or what they look like.
“Within the NHS, by making sure EDI is at the heart of an organisation is vital to ensuring staff feel seen, cared for and appreciated. By doing this, and by allowing our staff to be who they are, only then can we provide patients with the best care possible.”
In addition to her job, Banji has also found time to train as an MBTI facilitator and diversity peer assessor; was awarded a post-graduate Diploma in community cohesion management and a Masters in Healthcare Leadership.
In her role as associate director for inclusion at Barts Health, Banji was known by everyone. Always on hand to answer any questions and offer support on EDI, she greeted everyone with a smile and treated them with respect during her time at the trust. She also worked tirelessly to change how EDI is thought about at Barts Health – and has been successful. Her achievements in the role include:
- Setting up the award-winning career development programme for ethnic minority and female staff
- Establishing the staff diversity networks
- Implementing the Listening in Action (LiA) big conversation on EDI, which later became individual EDI boards at each hospital, working within the Trust EDI board.
- Recognition in a CQC report about how much EDI had improved across the Trust since the previous report a few years prior
I’m proud to say that during my time at Barts Health, positive changes have been made to become a more inclusive organisation.
She was also instrumental in the development and launch of the Trust’s WeBelong inclusion strategy, and to deepening our understanding and appreciation of the lived experiences of the incredibly diverse groups of people who work at Barts Health and live in the communities that we serve.
Talking about receiving the honour, Banji said: “I don’t have the words to describe how it felt to receive the letter saying I was being awarded an MBE. Creating a culture where staff can be themselves is something I’m passionate about. And I’m proud to say that during my time at Barts Health, positive changes have been made to become a more inclusive organisation. While working at the Trust, I was allowed to be myself and I worked in a very supportive environment, which not everyone gets. To Alwen, the leadership team, all my colleagues who made that the case, thank you.”
Reflecting on Banji’s award, Dame Alwen William’s said: “Banji is a true powerhouse and a pioneer in the field of inclusion. She has left a tremendous legacy with us at Barts Health and has been instrumental in making us a more inclusive place to work and be treated. On behalf of everyone at Barts Health, I’d like to thank Banji for her work with us and congratulate her on this very well deserved recognition.”