Bringing BAME to the table

Diversity is not a new subject. Whether it’s in films, in sport or, closer to home, in the workplace, diversity remains a hot topic. We need to strive to live in a world where everyone feels empowered. Where everyone feels included and valued. This is something that I’m particularly passionate about and last September I took on the role as the executive sponsor for O2’s Diversity and Inclusion activity.

I’m pleased to say that at O2, we’ve had a focus on encouraging diversity and celebrating the diversity of our people. A part of this is around BAME – Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic. BAME makes up one of the four key pillars of our inclusion strategy. A strategy for us to create a culture at work where people feel valued, and they can come and be themselves.

Our approach is twofold. We’re always looking inwards at how we can encourage better diversity across our business. But, importantly, we’re also looking outwards. BAME diversity is not just a priority at O2. It’s relevant to every company in every industry across the UK.

That’s why last week we took our first step in creating a network of companies aspiring to address BAME related challenges, holding our very first BAME focused Think Tank at our headquarters in Slough. We believe that by bringing together businesses across the UK we can truly drive change, accelerating BAME diversity and inclusion throughout UK workplaces.

With reports from McGregor Smith showing that if BAME talent is fully utilised, the economy could receive a £24 billion boost, it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure we get this right. Culturally and ethnically diverse Boards are also 43% more likely to outperform on profitability.

This week’s Think Tank, which will hopefully be the first of many more to come, saw us host around 30 people from across leading companies.

We came together to share, learn and establish best practices. We covered a lot, including:

  • Enablers and blockers in the BAME journey at work
  • Attracting, hiring and retaining BAME talent
  • The ethnicity data gap
  • Engaging BAME employees
  • Engaging leadership teams

I was proud to be part of such an energetic discussion, and I hope that through further events we can help play our part in establishing best practice and tangible solutions that each and every organisation can take away with them.

This is not just about what we’re doing at O2 though. We all have a role to play in accelerating BAME diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  Together we need to build organisations that reflect the consumers we collectively serve. I’d challenge you all to think about what you, or your organisation, could do to make a difference.