Planning for organisational culture change or sleepwalking into the unknown?


It is difficult to know how to react to the diversity review recently published by the Royal College of Surgeons.  The review, which was carried out by Helena Kennedy QC, found that the College needs organisational culture change – a “radical shake-up” and that its plan for diversity is “next to non-existent”.

The report gives examples of a number of lazy racist and homophobic stereotypes in the organisation. The College is described as an “old boys’ network” with women believing that pregnancy would be harmful to career progression.

The good news is that the Royal College commissioned an independent review and published the final report, even though it made for very painful reading.  In response, the President recognises the need for organisational culture change. He described the report as “immeasurably important” and said that it will change the face of the College for years to come. He committed to support the vision developed by the review and to “put diversity at the heart of the College’s strategy”.

We can only wish luck to everyone involved with implementing change as a result of the report.  It is hard to bring about change, particularly in venerable institutions such as this – but exposing the reality to the light is an essential first step in the process of delivering change.

As the Royal College of Surgeons embarks on that journey, the question comes to mind – who is next?  While the leaders of other organisations may be tempted to turn the page of the newspaper reports and move on to other things, they should be urgently asking themselves what they need to do to avoid being the organisation in the newspapers tomorrow.  It is surely far better to bring these things out into the open yourself than to be sleepwalking into the unknown.


Verita has a track record of investigating organisational cultures and advising organisations how they can change for the better.  If we can help you to get a clearer picture of your organisation’s culture, please book a free consultation or contact Ed Marsden on 020 7494 5670 or [email protected].

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