Chancellor Karen Blackett OBE appointed Race Equality Business Champion

The University’s Chancellor Karen Blackett OBE has been appointed as a Race Equality Business Champion by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

Karen Blackett OBE

A new charter setting out five practical steps for private sector businesses to drive forward race equality in the workplace was launched today (11 October).

The Race at Work Charter, run by the Prince of Wales’s responsible business network, Business in the Community, and championed by WPP UK Country Manager and Chairwoman of MediaCom UK & Ireland, Karen Blackett OBE, calls on organisations to increase the progression of ethnic minority staff at senior levels by removing barriers and embedding initiatives such as mentoring and sponsorship programmes.

At the event, held at WPP’s new offices at Sea Containers House in London, the Prime Minister called on organisations from across the UK to improve inclusion and equality in the workplace by appointing an Executive Sponsor for Race Equality and capturing ethnicity data in order to identify the action needed to help ensure fair employment practices for everyone.

As WPP UK Country Manager, Karen has established an Inclusion Board to remove barriers to progression and look at how apprenticeships and programmes focused on reverse mentoring can encourage a more diverse and reflective workforce that in turn results in greater creativity and business growth for clients. A joint initiative between WPP and Rare Recruitment, the WPP Micro Fellowship, encourages BAME candidates to consider a career in marketing communications by placing participants in three different WPP agencies over the period of a month.

Karen Blackett OBE said: “Embracing diversity and inclusion is not a choice, it’s a business necessity. Clients choose WPP precisely because of the capability and creativity of our people; it’s why we’re focused on attracting, developing and promoting the best talent from across a range of backgrounds. Creativity powers business growth and this only happens by having diversity of talent in the room and reflecting society in the content we create.

“As the UK Government’s Race at Work Champion, I’m committed to helping businesses address inequality at all levels by taking practical steps such as introducing apprenticeships, offering mentorships and capturing ethnicity data to create a more inclusive and representative workforce.”

Speaking at Sea Containers House, the Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Every employee deserves the opportunity to progress and fulfil their potential in their chosen field, regardless of which background they are from, but too often ethnic minority employees feel they’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression. That’s why I’m delighted to launch the Race at Work Charter, which gives businesses a clear set of actions to work towards in helping to create greater opportunities for ethnic minority employees at work.

“Our focus is now on making sure the UK’s organisations, boardrooms and senior management teams are truly reflective of the workplaces they manage, and to help companies like WPP, who are already taking action to encourage greater diversity in their workforce.”

The Charter is composed of five principal calls to action for leaders and organisations across all sectors, and, in addition to WPP, has already been signed by companies such as Shell, Norton Rose Fulbright, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Signing up commits organisations to taking practical steps to ensure their workplace is striving to be representative of British society today by tackling barriers that ethnic minority people face in recruitment and progression.


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