We launched Change the Race Ratio in October 2020 in the midst of a pandemic, and since then we’ve mostly been meeting online or in small groups.
So it was particularly special to be able to host a reception recently with Brunswick Group for many of our signatories, founders, partners, ambassadors and friends, to mark how far we’ve come - and to look to the future.
The evening brought together a fantastic host, June Sarpong OBE, keynote speaker Dr Doyin Atewologun and panel members Paulette Mastin of Reed Smith LLP and Vincent Egunlae of Grant Thornton LLP.
After the keynote, the panel discussed what more we can do to drive greater diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership roles in the future.
Change the Race Ratio founder Lord Karan Bilimoria and Brunswick Group chair Sir Alan Parker also spoke.
Here are the highlights of the evening.
Business has a big role to play
The evening kicked off with a short piece from Sir Alan Parker, talking about how as business leaders we have a huge part to play in helping to address some of the deep inequalities in our world and our society.
He argued that in many ways business is more connected to societal issues than ever before; a true rallying cry for us all to work together more collaboratively across organisations to drive change.
‘As Chair of Brunswick, it’s such a privilege to be an active supporter of what is a really important campaign. We are passionate believers that business should be a more integrated part of society...to deal with big societal issues.’
Our host June Sarpong OBE
June Sarpong OBE, campaigner and broadcaster addressed us about the need for collaboration and how we need to look at the ‘why’ not just the ‘how’ of how we create sustainable change.
‘We need to all work together to level the playing field so that anyone, regardless of their background, can fulfill their potential.’
Dr. Doyin Atewologun, Director at Delta Alpha Psi, delivered the keynote, sharing what she believes works when it comes to delivering change.
She started by asking the audience to think about their own compelling driving force to ‘change the race ratio’, as she believes that articulating one’s compelling driving force will make it easier to do the work in a sustained way.
‘We need to do more thinking work...which is an ongoing alertness to the less visible structures around us, and doing something with it.[..] And the organisation needs to do the work, not an individual labelled as ‘ethnically diverse’’.
She argued that to dismantle existing structures takes sustained persistence and effort - and called out the misconception that diversity is at the expense of merit, stating that true merit should result in representation from across our communities.
‘It is not the work of those with least power but the work of those with greatest power’ to bring about change.'
The Panel Discussion
Change the Race Ratio founder and Vice President of the CBI Lord Karan Bilimoria then introduced the panel.
The panel members, Paulette Mastin of Reed Smith LLP and Vincent Egunlae of Grant Thornton LLP, spoke about the importance of being purposeful and intentional in your approach to diversity at all levels of an organisation.
Paulette Mastin talked about how key sponsorship, mentoring and allyship is, as well as how crucial it is to feel that you're bringing your whole self to work.
‘Allyship is a huge disrupter for racial inequity....My own career trajectory came about through the power of allyship and sponsorship.’
Vincent Egunlae spoke powerfully about how debilitating it can be at the start of your career when you don’t know or feel that you belong.
‘Equity isn’t the absence of tension, it’s the presence of justice’
Taking action in creating more diverse and inclusive leadership is not about being liked, and it is not about avoiding friction. It’s about taking decisive action, to create a more diverse and therefore innovative and prosperous environment for everyone.
Our hosts, speaker and panel
Huge thanks to our hosts, speaker and panellists for such an inspiring and thought-provoking discussion;
Lord Karan Bilimoria, founder of Change the Race Ratio and when he was CBI president.
June Sarpong OBE, campaigner in diversity, speaker and panellist
Sir Alan Parker, Brunswick Group, chairman and founder of Brunswick Group and a trustee of Queen Elizabeth's Diamong Jubilee Trust
Dr. Doyin Atewologun, Dean of the Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford and Director at Delta Alpha Psi
Paulette Mastin, a partner at Reed Smith LLP and formerly of Linklaters
Vincent Egunlae from Grant Thornton LLP and Black British Business Awards 2022 Winner
Are you ready to Change the Race Ratio?
Whilst progress has been made, it’s very clear there is still so much still to do to create more racially equitable workplaces.
Businesses have a real opportunity to drive positive change not just for ethnic minority representation within their own populations (especially at more senior levels), but also to have an impact in wider society.
Our campaign signatories are UK businesses, committed to building more diverse and inclusive workplaces. We work as a peer group to turn the promise of progress into action and results.
We now have over 110 signatories. We’re proud of how far we’ve come and look forward to the next 100 – and beyond.
Whatever your size or sector, and whatever stage you’re at in your diversity and inclusion journey – join us.
If you want to learn more or to sign your own business up to commit to helping drive this change, take action today.