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Welcome from the Chair

Dr Niall Connell

Dr Niall Connell

The RCVS set up the Diversity and Inclusion Group (DIG) in 2019 to work with stakeholders from across the veterinary team to ensure that the veterinary professions are diverse and inclusive, and that everyone can be themselves, both personally and professionally.

The DIG has objectives and principles, which you can read about shortly, and our work is supported by the current RCVS Strategic Plan, which is emphatic that the RCVS “will have the courage to take a leadership role within the professions, to ensure that the pervading culture is healthy, sustainable, inclusive, innovative and respectful; through this, we will develop confident veterinary professionals.”

Yet these must not just be nice words. We need to take action, and the conversations that support this can often be difficult and challenging. But although this may not be easy, all of us will benefit from professions that include many different points of view, experiences and contributions. Be in no doubt: this work is of benefit to all of us, and to animal health and welfare, and public health.

We must learn from other professions and sectors who are further ahead than we are, and must also put our hands up where things have not moved as quickly as possible or messages have gone awry, discuss these situations with accountability but not blame, learn from them and move forward.

“These must not just be nice words. We need to take action, and the conversations that support this can often be difficult and challenging.”

Once we have achieved a wider pool of applicants to the professions, we must ensure the processes via which students are selected are fair, and that we are committed to supporting students from minority groups within the learning environment.It’s vitally important that we take bold, concrete steps towards encouraging a broader range of applicants to veterinary and veterinary nursing schools or we will be missing out on some great talent. It’s not enough to say ‘our door is open’ we need to push it from the inside to allow a greater diversity of potential students to join us, and those individuals need to be able to see role models on the other side of the door, too. This takes hard and active work, not just saying ‘things will change with time’.

Finally, there is no point in encouraging people from diverse groups into our professions if they are not respected and encouraged once there – we need to develop working cultures in which everyone can flourish, and clear and transparent reporting structures for if things go wrong.

All of this needs to be underpinned by regulations that support the best outcomes and give a framework and moral backing to change for the better, for all our sakes.

So, thank you to all of you who have opened this document – that’s the first step – and a huge thanks those who are already active in trying to make a difference, including all of the wonderfully passionate and committed members of the DIG and the RCVS staff team that supports us. If you have any questions, or would like to get involved, please do contact us.

We already have veterinary professions of which we can be proud, in so many ways, but we can do better. Improved diversity and inclusion needs a keen focus from all of us, the next generation of veterinary professionals is watching, and the clock is ticking.

Dr Niall Connell MRCVS
Chair, RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group

Diversity and Inclusion Group Strategy icon graphic