Our Race Action Plan is influencing cultural change.

Samantha Owo, our Race Action Plan Lead, reflects on our progress to date.

Samantha Owo
Race Action Plan Lead
23 February 2023
4 min read

We’ve come a long way since the plan was launched, and we are seeing and experiencing change that is making a real difference, although we are still some way away from true racial equity.

I am happy to share that my optimism continues to grow, based on the progress that has been made and I continue to believe that it is possible to deliver the long-lasting cultural change needed.

We have a long history of ensuring we are an inclusive and diverse organisation – for customers, colleagues, and communities and our Race Action Plan has proven to be an additional catalyst for creating a truly inclusive workplace, a place where Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues can thrive and succeed at work.

And as the world continues to change around us, it’s more important than ever that we accomplish our commitments.

 We’ve got great advocates for racial equity in our leaders, holding regular listening sessions to better understand the challenges and barriers our colleagues face. As a result, our colleagues have shared they have seen a real improved understanding of the challenges facing Black colleagues, a more open and safe environment to have conversations about race, culture and ethnicity, improved retention of talent and greater visibility of representation across the Group, particularly with Asian and Minority Ethnic heritage colleagues – however more needs to be done.

We are immensely proud to be named the Outstanding Employer at the 2022 Investing in Ethnicity Awards, as testament to all the work we’ve done, but of course, we know there’s always more we can and must do.

Let’s look briefly at how the plan has been helping to shape the future positively to date.


Our Race Action Plan & Key Highlights

Our Race Action Plan introduced a set of commitments to address the specific challenges faced by Black colleagues, as well as Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues in our organisation.

The plan is focused on recruitment, culture, and progression within our business, and how we can support Black communities externally, starting with Black British businesses.

During 2022, we have seen an increase in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and Black heritage representation at a senior manager level but there is still more to do. As at the end of 2022, 10.2 per cent of senior manager roles were held by Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic colleagues, and 1.4 per cent held by Black heritage colleagues.

There has been a positive shift in our culture since the plan was launched, a key step was the establishment and ongoing importance of our Race Advisory Panel.

The Panel works exceptionally well as a “sounding board” to provide an invaluable perspective, and continues to play a critical role in helping us to shape the diversity initiatives that we need to deliver for sustainable change.

We’ve completed the delivery of our Race Education Programme to all colleagues including our contingent workers and embedded the race education training into our Group Induction Programme, with ongoing race awareness and allyship resources available to all colleagues to support ongoing awareness and allyship.


Central to our Race Action Plan is a desire to ensure that our talent pool is ethnically diverse. Our Senior Leadership Programme which helps us identify and place our next senior leaders continues, and following its success, we have launched a Career Acceleration Programme for middle managers to develop into senior manager roles.

The Career Acceleration Programme supports colleagues with the tools they might need to accelerate their career, providing bespoke development sessions, networking opportunities, peer to peer support through mentoring circles, and support to find a mentor or sponsor. By the end of 2022, over a quarter of the colleagues enrolled on the programme had either been promoted or taken a lateral move to progress their career.

We voluntarily published our first Ethnicity Pay Gap (report in late 2020 and we have continued to meet our commitment to publish our Ethnicity Pay Gap Report every year since.

We’ve refreshed our inclusive hiring guidance and rolled out inclusive hiring masterclasses reaching over 2,000 hiring managers.

We supported the 10,000 Black Interns initiative with 19 Black interns joining the Group for a summer paid internship and we are planning to increase take-up in 2023 to over 75 interns.

When it comes to actively supporting Black communities, we’ve made noteworthy progress, maintaining a Black Business Advisory Committee, chaired by Claudine Reid MBE, growing our partnership with Foundervine, which helps ambitious leaders create, test, and sustain entrepreneurial ventures.


We supported the 10,000 Black Interns initiative with 19 Black interns joining the Group for a summer paid internship, and we are planning to increase take-up in 2023 to over 75 interns.


Developing and launching the Black Business Resource Hub in collaboration with the Black Business Network, which is a directory of business resources and organisations that support Black and diverse entrepreneurs for the lifecycle of their businesses.

We’ve commenced a Supply Chain Diversity programme to ensure that our suppliers and partners match our goal to represent the society we serve.

I know we have more to do, but we are taking progressive steps on that journey, because for us, getting this right is at the heart of our purpose to Help Britain Prosper - as a more inclusive society is a more prosperous society.


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