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Together we can make progress

news published date 24 January 2024
  • Thoughts & Opinions
Race Equality Week runs from February 5-11 this year and the theme is #ListenActChange. Race Equality matters say there has been a lot of listening, and discussing, but very little action and even less meaningful change. How can you get involved?

February 5 sees the start of Race Equality Week – an event aimed at uniting organisations from across the UK to address the barriers to race equality in the workplace. As an organisation focused on championing equality in financial services, we know and understand the complex challenges that exist, as well as the importance of raising awareness and sparking the right conversations to create action and change.

The focus of Race Equality Week is for organisations to embrace listening to the issues impacting their teams when it comes to race inequality, to create action through collaboration and to inspire change in behaviours and attitudes through the action and the impact it has. It is important for us all to be a part of the change we want to see happen.

For 2024, Race Equality Week is challenging organisations to encourage their employees to undertake a short daily challenge. The challenges aim to overcome the busyness of daily lives as a barrier to taking action. Each challenge asks thought-provoking questions and provides suggested actions to take. There are also short videos and suggested readings to further knowledge. On the final day, it focuses on the Big Promise which is all about commitment, transparency, and accountability.

Anna Lane, President of Women in Banking and Finance comments:

As we step into Race Equality Week in 2024, amidst the ongoing debate and under the emblem of our unwavering commitment at Women in Banking and Finance, it’s imperative to reaffirm that our pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion transcends a notional societal obligation. Instead, we see it as a cornerstone of strategic excellence and commercial success in the financial sector. We recognise that true progress in DE&I is not achieved through platitudes,  but through actionable, metric-driven strategies — much like any other business imperative.

 Our conviction is further bolstered by the exemplary leadership of figures like Dame Amanda Blanc, whose leadership not only champions DE&I, but has also significantly enhanced shareholder value, illustrating the tangible benefits of diverse leadership. This narrative is supported by robust data, including findings from McKinsey & Company, which underscore the superior profitability of gender-diverse and ethnically diverse teams.

 In light of these insights, and considering the stark underrepresentation and disparities within our sector, Race Equality Week stands as not just an occasion for reflection but a call to action. It beckons us to embed DE&I not as an adjunct to our operations but as a fundamental driver of innovation, sustainability and competitive advantage.

Dr Heather Melvile
Dr. Heather Melville OBE CCMI

Dr. Heather Melville OBE CCMI – WIBF Patron, Chancellor of York University and CEO & Founder of Clarke Smith Advisory – added: “While the UK’s annual Race Equality Week only started in 2021 and its growth has been great  – in 2023 some 4,500 organisations took part – we more need many more companies to sign up to the movement, particularly in the banking and finance sectors. 

“It’s why we’re asking WIBF’s members to encourage their own organisations to take on the 2024 challenge to #ListenActChange. As the team behind the Race Equality Week stated, it’s time to make it everyone’s business. It’s also important though that this doesn’t become yet another initiative that is talked about but sees little action. The level of change taking place is too little and too slow. And given we continue to see the UK businesses’ productivity levels lag their international peers, surely this offers us a chance to embrace the amazing diversity we have in the UK AND deliver economic growth that would benefit us all.

To find out more and get involved in the five-day challenge, or many of the events happening during Race Equality Week, please visit the Race Equality Matters website.