Enterprise’s Northwest UK region has struggled to attract female Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates and to develop BAME candidates to management level. To address this, the U3BAME committee was launched in November 2014 with multiple objectives including attraction, development and retention of BAME employees, particularly focusing on BAME female candidates. The committee aimed to encourage dialogue and alleviate restrictions to career progression with Enterprise’s BAME workforce and to develop relationships with business leaders and suppliers in BAME communities.
The committee includes employees with various backgrounds and experiences. All employees – including those from non-BAME backgrounds – are invited to take part in event planning and execution, which encourages open discussion and innovation. Senior managers are involved at all levels, including the European Director of HR, the UK HR Director, the Regional Director, area managers and regional department heads.
The majority of BAME female employees within the region are of South Asian descent, and their biggest request of the committee was to involve their families and deliver the career sales pitch to them. This led to the creation of the BAMECONNEXIONS2015 event, where all BAME female employees and two ‘significant others’ (including parents, partners, siblings and friends) were invited to meet senior managers. The event aimed to get buy-in from employees’ families, provide a positive ‘report’ of employees’ development, answer family members’ questions and concerns and encourage suggestions for improvement. Over 60 employees and their families attended the event.
The committee has worked with regional university partners on campus events including presentations and workshops, which allowed BAME employees to develop leadership and public speaking skills. Liverpool John Moores University also arranged a ‘Getting In, Getting On’ event for female BAME students in partnership with Enterprise’s female BAME representatives.
The BAME committee has also worked with Muslim employees to suggest ways their requirements can be accommodated during Ramadan. Suggestions have included alternative working hours, educating non-Muslim staff on etiquette and mobilising the entire region to allow all Muslim staff a day off for Eid.
BAME hiring numbers have increased by 6% to make up 38.2% of overall hires and BAME employee development into management roles has increased by 6%. For female BAME employees, hiring numbers are up 10% and development into management roles is up 8%, with the number of BAME female managers increasing from one to nine.
Employee opinion surveys in the region are the best in Enterprise’s International rankings, with career advancement and ethics and values scoring 81% and 91% favourable responses respectively from all employees in the region.
The committee has also now been replicated across other UK regions.