By Jackie Beer, Director of Diversity & Inclusion
At BT, were working to build a business as diverse and vibrant as the communities we serve. We have around 100,000 people in 180 countries. We believe in fairness, equality and respect for human rights, but of course, its what we do and how we act, not just what we believe, that really matters.
A year ago, against the backdrop of growing demand for action to address issues of systemic racism and prejudice, we launched our Ethnicity Rapid Action Plan (ERAP), focussing on the four key areas where we felt we could make the biggest initial difference:
- Educating and empowering our people
- Accelerating diversity within
- Leading by example
- Building transparency
For us, this was about building on the existing plans we had in place and challenging ourselves to be better, go further faster and build a better BT.
In the last 12 months, weve worked with our Ethnic Diversity Network to influence and accelerate the pace of racial equality at BT. To better understand diversity at BT, we carried out a successful People Data Campaign in 2020 which saw an increase in ethnicity declaration rates to 79%.
Progress to date
- Educating and empowering our people: Were rolling out a new programme of mandatory race awareness training for everyone in BT. A mix of thought-provoking interactive workshops, digital modules and local activation through team based Lets Talk about Race sessions.
- Accelerating diversity within: Weve strengthened our partnership with the Aleto Foundation and were creating a new, fast-stream for high potential people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Weve also recently launched a talent programme for managers which includes additional support for women and our ethnic minority colleagues to help us take positive action to level the playing field.
- Leading by example: Our reverse mentoring programme which gives our Executive Committee and other senior leaders the opportunity to be mentored by colleagues from a different ethnic background has been running for nine months. This September will see us launch the next round of partnerships.
- Building transparency: Today, we published our Diversity & Inclusion Report, which contains our first Ethnicity Pay Gap Report, our update on Black inclusion and diversity targets to support our 2030 ambitions.
Alongside our focus on ethnicity, weve worked hard to increase diversity and to reduce our gender pay gap which is now significantly lower than that of the telecommunications industry as a whole; weve continued to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues, becoming gold sponsors of Pride in London; and as proud signatories of The Valuable 500, were helping to put disability on the business leadership agenda.
So, what next? Throughout 2021 and beyond, well be looking to increase our diversity declaration rates and through our Disability Rapid Action Plan we will provide the additional focus and resource needed to accelerate the pace of progress and achieve better outcomes for disabled colleagues, those with a long term health condition, impairment or neurodiverse condition.
Well also hold ourselves to account and will monitor progress against our 2030 ambitions and workforce diversity targets. Were delighted to be a gold sponsor of Pride in London and through our Hope United campaign against online hate we are tackling unacceptable language and behaviours that have absolutely no place in an inclusive, respectful society.
Were developing a broader, pan BT diversity and inclusion programme with a clear focus on attracting and retaining diverse talent. The breadth of the programme means were also ensuring that diversity and inclusion are core foundations in our customer and supply chain strategies and well leverage our position as one of the worlds leading communications services companies to influence change that helps us all connect for good.
I hope you can see that were making progress but understanding and changing an organisation like BT isnt easy. Weve made a good start, but theres much more to do. Well continue to listen to our people, build on the progress weve made so far and double down on our commitment to make sure that all our colleagues feel included at work.
To find out more visit www.bt.com/diversity-and-inclusion