Race Equality Awards 2017-Royal Bank of Scotland: Leadership and Mainstreaming Ethnicity into Business Thinking

Although the overall UK Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population of RBS is representative of the ONS census data at 15%, further analysis showed that BAME representation at the top four levels of the bank decreased to 10%. For the senior management population, representation dropped to 5%. Analysis from the bank-wide unconscious bias training was undertaken to build a positive action plan in order to strengthen the BAME pipeline and increase the pull-through rates of BAME talent.

Simon McNamara, the senior sponsor for the multicultural agenda at RBS, demonstrated his leadership by engaging in activities which helped RBS to build an ethnicity lens into key processes and practices. Alongside this is an expectation that each Executive Committee (ExCo) member is accountable for delivery against the plan for each of their business areas. Simon chairs ExCo and sub-ExCo discussions encouraging other leaders to share responsibility for building the proportion of senior BAME leaders in their business. RBS has also introduced the inclusion of BAME candidates onto longlists for executive and board hires, and the Boardroom Inclusion policy has been amended to reflect the Parker Review recommendations.

To support the development of the ethnicity plan, in 2016 Simon invited key industry figures to participate in a race advisory board. Simon chairs the board, which meets twice yearly to advise and offer critical consideration of RBS’ engagement and delivery plans. Advisory board members included Sandra Kerr OBE, Business in the Community Race Equality Director, Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust and Sonia Brown, Chair of the National Black Women’s Network.

Simon has actively supported the Employee-led Multicultural Network (MCN) at RBS, attending their annual event as key speaker and supporting their inaugural interfaith event, which encouraged dialogue and acknowledgement of commonalities between faith groups and the bank’s values. Simon also supports the Inclusion team to deliver and facilitates opportunities to ensure ethnicity is on the agenda across the bank through regular communications and bespoke development activity, such as employee-focused listening groups where BAME employees could share their views and the challenges in progressing their careers.

Following the EU referendum and mindful of the fact that the split of the national outcome could reasonably reflect the RBS employee population base, Simon sponsored a bank-wide audio attended by over 100 employees to discuss the impact of the vote and to reassure employees of the bank’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, irrespective of the outcome.  This was followed up with a bank-wide communication reminding everyone of expected inclusive behaviours to ensure a positive working environment for all.

RBS has developed a robust plan which Simon has cascaded at Executive level and mainstreamed into individual business plans. The compound nature of the plan allows for each business area to draw on elements according to their business priorities.  Some of the impact includes appointing a BAME female non-executive Director May 2017, agreeing to introduce ethnicity workforce targets and introducing MI dashboards to track change across each business area.

Simon has championed change through the bank, including the foundation of an inclusion steering group within his business of over 10,000 employees, with a specific commitment to embed ethnicity within business plans. He has also profiled senior leaders internally, supporting discussion of ethnicity in the workplace and the value of championing talent at all levels.

Targeted communications of RBS’ bespoke development offerings have resulted in over 100 employees taking advantage, including three ExCo members and their teams who participated in the Reciprocal Mentoring framework. 40 employees have attended Business in the Community mentoring workshops, and 30 employees have taken part in the Success Talks conference. Additionally, over 60% of RBS employees have undertaken some form of unconscious bias training.