Confederation of British Industry (CBI): Race at Work Action Plan

Case study

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is an organisation that speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. Our corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.

CBI’s Race at Work Action Plan

2020 has been a year for the history books and one that has put a spotlight in the inequalities faced by many. The killing of George Floyd followed by the Black Lives Movement (BLM) led to many organisations including ours to asking some honest questions.  “Are we doing all we can to truly create an inclusive environment for all?”, “How can are we supporting our black colleagues?” and “What meaningful actions do we now need to make?”. It was those honest questions that birthed the creation of our Race at Work Action Plan which was launched in July.

The plan outlined an internal and external approach to tackling racial inequality and was centred around 4 themes:

  • Culture
  • Representation
  • Voice
  • Engagement.

These were aligned with our internal business behaviours of “Take Ownership” and “Collaboration”. The behaviours were key to this plan being owned by all because it needed us to own the role we all play in using our privilege to help others whilst challenging us all to look at what it means to be a true Ally. Understanding that allyship is an everyday activity that requires us to be uncomfortable at times, but is needed in learning and unlearning things to enact real change.

As aforementioned, our 4 themes looked at Culture which is the overarching strand. It looks at how or whether we can talk openly about race and inclusion and share our stories for real changes to have its desired effect. Representation had both an internal and external lens. Internally, we looked at our structure, recruitment, progression, and policies.  Externally, we looked at how we could diversify our events, councils, and committees to ensure it reflects the society we operate. This season also birthed our Change the Race Ratio Campaign created by our President Lord Karan Bilimoria and its focused on the role of business and asks signatories to commit to 4 things:

  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity among Board members (aligned with the Parker review)
  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity in senior leadership (ExCo, ExCo -1)
  • Be transparent on targets and actions (by publishing ethnicity pay gap)
  • Create an inclusive culture in which talent from all diversities can thrive.

The last two themes looked at Voice which is the role we play in our internal and external communication. From ensuring greater diverse voices speak on different subject areas externally, to ensuring that we amplify our voice on matters that affect people from underrepresented backgrounds (i.e. calling for mandatory ethnicity pay gap), to raising awareness of key diversity awareness days and communicating that internally across the business. It also meant working closely with our Race and Ethnicity Equality network, so that the voices of their members are heard.

Finally, it covered Engagement which is how we use data to drive change, how we support the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues from BAME backgrounds but also how we share information and guidance internally and amongst our members. It’s also included how we look at training on allyship, privilege, language, and terminologies to support the learning that is taking place.

At the CBI, we knew that we had a role to play not just as an organisation but as a membership body in doing what we could to tackle racial inequality in the world of work. We know there is so much more to do and as we look to 2021, we hope to do much more.

Please do reach out to:

Ife Onwuzulike, Head of Diversity and Inclusion  –   for more information on The CBI Race at Work

Richard DeNetto, Associate Director –  for more information on our Change the Race Ratio Campaign

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