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We are beyond excited to be launching Race On, a new think tank focused on creating consistency and collaboration in conversations around ethnicity inclusion with OBV and the Interlaw Diversity Forum this week. The Race On think tank’s inaugural meeting was attended by 20 thought leaders and innovators from across the public, private and voluntary sectors, representing many different function and industries to ensure broad perspectives and experiences could be shared and learned from.

In order to ensure the continued impact of this initiative, we have pulled together some key learnings from the session for you to digest and take into your organisation.

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Prework Findings

  • 70% of attendees had ethnicity included in your D&I strategy prior to the murder of George Floyd
  • 60% of attendees’ organisations send out internal and external messages of support to the Black community after the murder of George Floyd
  • 55% of attendees did not feel their organisation was equipped to tackle difficult conversations on ethnicity
  • 72% of attendees are significantly involved in D&I strategies at work

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Current State

In our prework survey, 60% of attendees said prior to George’s death, ethnic inclusion was on the D&I agenda. However there is a disconnect because diverse ethnicity representation was and still is significantly lagging in these organisations.

The problematic reality of pledges and platitudes, is they continue to mask the 60% deficit in organisations who claim ethnic representation sit on the agenda with little to no impact. How do we convert PR into practice to increase representation and find a sustainable solution?

Studies show COVID-19 was the digital accelerant of the decade. The pandemic fast-tracked global business digital communications strategy by 6 years. A staggering 96% of UK enterprise decision makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation by unprecedented levels. We continue to liken the murder of George Floyd as the second Pandemic, and would therefore expect to see similar accelerated metrics around organisational Diversity, Equity and Inclusion transformation.

This new think tank was set up to start addressing how we ensure we do not end up in the echo chamber of the Black Lives Matter movement, outraged without action but instead build a sustainable strategy inclusive to underrepresented ethnic communities.

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Solutions to Session Objectives

  • In the prework survey, 60% of you said, prior to George Floyd’s death, ethnic inclusion was on your D&I agenda. However, there is a disconnect because representation of diverse ethnic groups is significantly behind the curve in many of these organisations.
  • The problematic reality of pledges and platitudes is they continue to mask the 60% deficit in organisations who claim ethnic representation sit on the agenda with little to no impact. How do we convert PR into practice to increase representation and find a sustainable solution?
  • Our Chatham House styled roundtable sought out industry leaders who were encouraged to discuss the undiscussable, address behind-closed-door decision making and learn tools for immediate action.
  • Studies show COVID-19 was the digital accelerant of the decade. The pandemic fast-tracked global business digital communications strategy by 6 years. A staggering 96% of UK enterprise decision makers believe the pandemic sped up their company’s digital transformation by unprecedented levels. We continue to liken the murder of George Floyd as the second Pandemic and would therefore expect to see similar accelerated metrics around organisational Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion transformation.
  • How do we ensure we do not end up in the echo chamber of the Black Lives Matter movement? How do we ensure we do not end up outraged but without action? How do we ensure we build a sustainable strategy inclusive of underrepresented ethnic groups?

Agreed understanding of what the intervals of success look like from here:

Strategy must be underpinned by empathy, honesty, advocacy, and an action framework. This is a time for leaders to lead.

  • The framework within companies needs to enable everyone to feel they have a leadership role to play. They need to be listened to, they need to know they are valued, they need to know their voices and values have the mobility to go from A to B to the highest office, if needed.
  • Honesty plays a crucial role in dealing with unconscious bias and uncomfortable truth within senior top leadership. We all need to have a level of reflection; reflect on political corrective-ness. Empathy, Advocacy and Action should be central to our DNA. Everyone benefits from it. The Imperative is to get it right even though we face a lot of challenges: economic downfall, Covid, Brexit. Leaders must lead despite being uncomfortable.
  • Asking politely is not the way forward. This is going to be uncomfortable for those who have benefitted from the status quo for so long, unchallenged, but we must all recognise that.

Agreed immediate and long-term interventions to refocus the conversation on concrete outcomes, not attention. (Anti-racist strategy):

Empathy

  • Leaders must stop relying on Black colleagues to do the work and present the business case, as it causes trauma.
  • Black staff are traumatised. We need to address ways to tackle it. Micro aggressions are happening, ask for support and conversation. It is happening in schools, universities, and workplaces. Black people are being held back, and they cannot reach their potential. Trauma is real.

Honesty

  • There is little progress on Black representation in civil service, only 0.5% improvement in the last few years; the HR personnel are mainly white females, how can they advise on Black representation if they don’t have it in their own department.
  • There is lack of investment for Black entrepreneurs, corporate funding of Black businesses is needed, diverse founders are left out. Ethnically diverse business returns higher profits. There is a missed opportunity, needs to be addressed by government
  • This is an extremely uncomfortable conversation to strike. Most people’s default tendency will be to shy away from it as we have seen from a large majority of major UK businesses.

Advocacy

  • Career coaching is valuable, as well as reverse mentoring and sponsorship.
  • There should be compulsory disclosure of ethnic minority data, including recruitment and retention figures.
  • Allyship is very important – the behaviours need to change, and the employers finally realise it. We need active advocacy and active sponsorship.
  • When deciding programming outcomes, we must apply the intersectional lens. No one is just Black or just a Woman. Inclusion first.

Action

  • We need to build on data capture by rolling out inclusion surveys – this must go global in your organisation. We need to dismantle the system as it is broken. Do not ask for permission, find ways to dismantle it piece by piece. Now is the time to be bold and check why it does not work.
  • We need to peel away layers and understand barriers to remove them; gender programmes took a long time, there are challenges which need to be addressed. antiracist training is needed but so are operational inclusion audits.
  • Whilst we can learn from the shortcomings of previous talent programming to improve and nurture gender diverse and LGBTQ talent, fresh approaches must be adopted for ethnicity inclusion.
  • HR must be empowered to ask for more power from leadership to break with ‘Business as Usual’ approaches.
  • It is imperative to understand your data, but this must not be the reason for delay in getting a grip on understanding your culture.
  • Gutsy decisions bring you progress. The primary obstacle to a meaningful progress is not the CEO, Senior management, or Board, it is often HR. They run the pipeline, progress. They can pull people up or push people to the bottom.
  • All hiring managers and HR teams need inclusion training. Algorithmic system threatening interesting and curious people.
  • Admit you do not know everything, commit to continued-education programmes and always share authentic and meaningful stories

Accelerating Transformation

  • Every other month, we will invite our Executive Leadership Community to assemble and debate a specific theme generated from the feedback from the initial survey. These will be updated as the programme continues.
  • To help you get a better understanding of your current state, we are offering complementary 30min consultations to all our attendees to establish your burning platforms in Talent and Diversity & Inclusion. Please reach out to ea@ruebik.com.

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Ruebik Is Creating Equity of Opportunity in the Global Senior Job Market. To Find Out More About How We Can Help You Improve Holistic Representation Across Your Senior Teams, Please Feel Free to Get In Touch.