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A.F. Blakemore Launches Race at Work Strategy

May 18, 2022

Race at Work

A.F. Blakemore has launched a Race at Work Strategy. 

Last November the company kicked off its Race at Work journey with an all-colleague survey that was able to break down the experiences of colleagues according to their race and ethnicity. 

There was a marked difference in nearly all response areas between white colleagues and those who are Black, Asian or of an ethnic minority heritage. The second group more commonly reported feelings of exclusion, not being supported and encouraged to gain the skills needed to develop, and not being able to fully be themselves at work.

From this statistical data, focus groups were held to go deeper into the challenges and experiences faced by colleagues. This gave the business really good insight that was used to form the Race at Work Strategy, which was signed off at the AFB Group Board in March.

The first step of this was to roll out a Let’s Talk About Race workshop to everyone with line management responsibility, so about 600 colleagues, which is one of the biggest deliveries of an in-person session rolled out at Blakemore’s to date. 

This is currently underway – if you have a team, make sure you are booked onto one of these sessions. For everyone else, the business is currently building an interactive e-learning module that will take you through the experience at a time that works for you.

A.F. Blakemore has also launched a new Speak Out process: a mechanism that allows colleagues to report any bullying, discrimination or harassment experienced or witnessed in the business. It’s an electronic form to complete that will go directly through to HR, who will pick up the phone before acting on a submission so that anyone who completes a form remains in control of the process. Posters will start to go up across the business with QR codes to scan.

Following the completion of the workshop and e-learning rollout, the company will be kicking off reciprocal mentoring, unconscious bias training and, later in the year, a development programme specifically to help the development of colleagues who are Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority heritage. We’ll continue to listen to the communities we’re focusing on by redoing the survey every six months and the more in-depth focus groups each year.

Finally, the business is bringing together a team of colleagues who will become engagement champions for religious and cultural events. They will meet every six to eight weeks and inform and deliver cultural and religious events as part of A.F. Blakemore’s Responsible Business Programme events calendar. The meetings can be virtual or in person (or hybrid and we can support colleagues with access to tech).

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