Blog by Sandra Kerr, OBE
During the last week of January 2014 I gave the keynote speech at TNON the Network of Networks sponsors’ launch event. The event, which was hosted by Race for Opportunity member Baker & McKenzie, welcomed a number of employers we are connected to which have BAME networks. The event was also attended by a number of the network leads and executive sponsors, many of whom were white males. It was great to see so many senior leaders prepared to actively sponsor and champion this issue within their organisations.
As they are a key audience for Race for Opportunity, this event was a vital platform to promote our work and bring them up to date with our plans for the coming months.
It was great to see so many of our members at the event – we had 17 of our member organisations attend including eight Champions, who I thanked in my speech for the support they have given to Race for Opportunity over the years and asked them to help us make 2014 our best year yet in three ways: taking part in the Race for Opportunity Awards, completing the Benchmarking Survey and helping to develop our leadership website pages.
Next month we will be launching the 2014 Race for Opportunity Awards. Last year’s awards were our biggest ever with an amazingly high standard of entries, but this year we want to do even more. My ask for the attendees was to consider entering their networks for the Employee Network Award and to nominate their senior sponsors for the Champion Award, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing their entries and how they are leading on BAME progression and inclusion in the workplace.
I also mentioned the correlation between the Benchmarking Trends Analysis and BAME networks and senior BAME employees – in last year’s analysis, the best performing organisations on BAME leadership were most likely to have a race or diversity executive sponsor driving commitment to action at the highest levels of an organisation. The organisations with more BAME managers and senior managers were also likely to have a network or cultural diversity forum with a senior sponsor which focussed on professional development and business opportunities. I’m now expecting a flurry of applications for those awards!
We will also soon be launching our brand new Leadership section for the Race for Opportunity website, and I will be writing to the executive sponsors who attended the event to ask them to get involved.