We come together as a new campaign led by a group of senior and influential Black and BAME professionals and business organisations, drawn together by Red Lion Chambers and ELBA and make this statement of intent in response to the shocking events of 25 May 2020.
We have all been tracking the unfolding events in the USA and the reaction around the world. We are all outraged and sickened by the injustice of the murder of George Floyd. Many of us have individually issued statements condemning this heinous act, and expressing solidarity with our colleagues, friends and fellow citizens in the Black community. Leaders from all parts of the community are talking about whether this can be a moment for change. We believe it can if we act now.
We are all involved, individually and collectively, in programmes, initiatives, charities and movements, and have made efforts to improve our own organisations’ track record on diversity in recruitment and progression. Each effort in their own right has validity and value. But if we are to use this moment, we have to accept it is not enough. We chose this moment in time to make changes that lie within our influence and we accept that what we have done so far is not enough. We are calling our campaign SHIFT25 – we are calling for a fundamental shift – and for it to happen quickly, by 2025.
First, we acknowledge that addressing the prejudice and power that has adversely impacted the lives of Black and BAME communities has wrongly been treated as theirs to resolve and fight against.
Second, we support all who stand for justice and equality and the right to protest.
Third, we want to ensure a legacy of change and in doing so, believe it right to focus on young people – despite the injustices experienced right now – because young eyes are watching, and questioning whether they will ever live in an equal society.
Fourth, we know that this is a time for greater joint action. We believe we ourselves as individuals, our organisations, and the power of senior Black and BAME professionals, together with London’s business community can and should do more to make London the kind of city and economy that our young people deserve. We must give young members of the Black and BAME communities genuine hope for the future, to allow them to believe that they will have an equal chance of fulfilling their dreams and potential.
1. We must give young people from Black and BAME communities hope and confidence, from the earliest years in school through to when they leave formal education, that their future matters. We will work to bridge the gap between them us and our organisations, through our own influence and commitment, and through practical actions such as mentoring and internships.
2. We must contribute to keeping young people safe, focus on the causes of serious youth violence and knife crime, and give help to those who need a second chance to get their lives on a better track. The evidence shows that there is disproportionate representation of Black and BAME young people among both victims and offenders. We are committed to challenging the routes into the criminal justice system via school exclusion and illiteracy and the disparity in treatment of minority communities within the criminal justice system
3. We must genuinely open up our workforce at all levels to people of all backgrounds. The evidence is very clear – people from Black and BAME backgrounds with equivalent education level do not get into the same well paid jobs with good prospects as those from more advantaged backgrounds and are more likely to be unemployed, or under-employed. At the same time there is conclusive evidence that businesses with more diverse workforces at all levels of seniority do better. It’s time to follow the evidence. We will re-examine internal practices and change processes or attitudes that operate to deny opportunity to members of the Black and BAME minorities. We will gather and publish data about how well we are doing now, where necessary, set targets and provide accountability and transparency for our progress. We will continue to provide an open door to all interested in learning about all professions within our business community.
4. We must tackle chronic inequality in the workplace and in pay. We can learn from what we have seen during the COVID crisis that many people of Black and BAME origin are in the jobs which have been essential to keeping the country and the healthcare system going. But they are not paid at a level which reflects the essential nature of what they do. We must address earnings inequality. We are committed to providing the space to enable these conversations to take place.
5. We want to send a different message to young people – particularly those from Black and BAME communities. And we want to invite senior professionals from all backgrounds and business organisations to act and get involved:
- By giving our time to young people as they pass through education from the very earliest years through to college and university, sharing our experiences and giving hope
- By making sure our own organisations practice open and fair recruitment, progression and promotion
- By widening significantly the number of employers who are prepared to help young people who have made a false start, and need help to get their futures back on track
- By making our own organisations safe spaces for colleagues to talk about issues of race and discrimination and pay inequality, and to tackle the daily small acts which make one set of colleagues perpetually feeling they are not seen as equals
We cannot erase the past, but we can make the future better. We have to act now and quickly. We need to stop talking about it and ‘be about it’. We invite anyone who is committed to changing to the legacy of discrimination to join us in determining the shape of the UK’s more equal economy and community.
Get involved – we want dynamic people around the table who understand the scale and nature of the shift which needs to happen – and who are prepared to harness themselves to it.
Please contact us to find out more and to join in:
Or contact SHIFT25@elba-1.org.uk