Race Equality Awards - Inclusive Workplace Culture - St Mungos

Uhuru Na Umoja (Freedom and Unity)


St Mungo’s aspiration is of an inclusive culture where its 1,200 staff can be themselves and work together in a spirit of unity, bringing to mind the Swahili term ‘Uhuru Na Umoja’ - meaning ‘freedom and unity’.  

The charity and housing association is seeking to address the over-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees in lower-paid roles and under-representation at senior levels. It recognises the need to be proactive in eliminating barriers and supporting progression. The charity has implemented a long-term strategic approach championed by the CEO, senior leaders, and a variety of departments to ensure diversity and inclusion (D&I) remains a business priority.

Over the past 18 months, St Mungo’s has strategically embedded the principles of D&I. The CEO and senior managers have been strong leaders in this cultural shift, supported by diversity networks and collaboration between departments. 

Following an organisation-wide consultation, St Mungo’s developed a 2015-18 D&I Strategy, out of which a specific BAME Positive Action Strategy was designed and approved by the Board. 

The overarching strategic aim is to embed D&I throughout the organisation, against which the charity has identified three specific goals:
•    Behaviour change to an inclusive environment for all
•    Eliminate barriers to progression for under-represented groups
•    Address over-representation in certain roles (for example, BAME staff in lower-paid roles)

One key recommendation in the strategy was to relocate D&I from HR to the Strategy Directorate. This enables the D&I function to work more closely with other teams more strategically. The move was communicated to all employees via networks, the intranet and managers' forums.
To address over-representation and under-representation of BAME employees within specific disciplines, St Mungo’s has appointed a senior manager to research specific barriers faced by night-workers. In addition, HR is addressing the diversity imbalance and working to attract a wider pool of talent by improving job advert content and where these are placed. Demographic data has been removed from applications during recruitment to minimise unconscious bias.

Senior leaders, senior managers and managers have been identified as influential role models and change agents towards a more inclusive culture. Three Executives are members of the D&I Steering Group, which actively leads on embedding inclusion (for example, allocating time for network activities). Each diversity network has a senior sponsor responsible for championing the network at senior level and providing informal coaching. Sponsor KPIs include attending at least 50% of meetings and network feedback in their 360-degree appraisal.

Senior managers are actively involved in a nine-month long mentoring scheme which began in October 2015 with 60% BAME mentees. Of these, 88% are matched with senior mentors including Executives and the CEO. The CEO believes mentoring plays a “vital role” in opening up dialogue at senior level about current and future initiatives to promote BAME progression and was a driving force behind the new mentoring scheme. The scheme is evaluated annually to ensure performance.

D&I training is now compulsory for all managers. 200 managers attend a quarterly forum where D&I is a standard feature and are required to disseminate updates to their teams. As a result, 40 employees have become D&I Allies, a role which involves visibly communicating D&I messages to colleagues. During appraisals, all managers are required to demonstrate how they have promoted D&I, thereby creating discussion about inclusivity and generating individual D&I targets for the coming year.

Improved collaboration and engagement throughout the organisation have led to a successful re-launch of the BAME Network, which had previously declined. The BAME Network is now a creative and vibrant network, successfully transitioning from a BME focus to a BAME focus.

St Mungo’s approach to inclusivity also includes its clients. The D&I function meets monthly with Outside In, the charity’s client representative group, to seek client input.

Key results of St Mungo’s strategic approach include a successful mentoring scheme aimed at career progression, developing a BAME Positive Action Strategy, relocating D&I to the Strategy Directorate, and engagement of staff at all levels on the importance of diversity and inclusion. St Mungo’s has found the re-launch of the BAME Network has been particularly valuable in opening up wider discussions about D&I.

The success of St Mungo’s commitment to embedded D&I and creating an inclusive culture is demonstrated by it achieving specific targets and outcomes outlined within the 2015-2018 D&I Strategy:
•    Board approval of BAME Positive Action Strategy by August 2015 - achieved
•    Re-launch the BAME network, with the aim of four meetings and three events per annually - on track (five meetings and two events since to date)
•    Secure a senior sponsor and ensure D&I is on board agendas by August 2015 -achieved  
•    Launch a mentoring scheme with minimum of 20 participants by September 2015 - achieved (40 participants)
•    Launch D&I Allies, with minimum 30 participants by May 2016 - achieved (40 Allies).
•    Secure support from external diversity organisations (such as Stonewall) by May 2015 - achieved 
•    Deliver a minimum of 10 organisation-wide diversity celebrations per year to recognise religious and cultural celebrations (started from August 2015) - exceeded (12 events to date)

More staff are now aware of D&I; 40% have chosen to join a network mailing list and 100% of new starters in the past six months have attended a D&I induction.

The December 2015 staff survey showed overall increases in staff engagement since 2013, with staff from Pakistani and Black African backgrounds having the highest engagement scores, at 87% and 84% respectively.

St Mungo’s is currently concluding final approvals to include ‘Inclusion and Respect’ as an organisational competency, alongside 12 sub-behaviours, following input from the re-launched BAME network. Once confirmed, this will be used during recruitment and appraisal processes, and the ambition is that it will have a sustainable impact by ensuring all new recruits have an inclusive attitude.