Sandra Kerr, a regular contributor to this column, is the national director of the Race for Opportunity (RfO) campaign, a national business-led network of private and public sector organisations working together to promote racial equality within their businesses. RfO was launched 10 years ago and is the quality benchmark of Business in the Community (BITC), a UK charity-based company with over 800 member organisations.
Before joining RfO, Kerr worked in the cabinet office advising cabinet ministers on diversity and policies on race, disability, gender and work life balance across Whitehall. Prior to this, she worked for the Department of Work and Pensions delivering frontline services to 33,000 customers while managing a team of 140 staff over a five year period. She also spent four years as a personal development trainer and IT skills trainer.
In her spare time, Kerr works as a part-time consultant team adviser for the Work Foundation's Premiere Leadership Programmes, which is for senior leaders working in the public and private sector.
Kerr is very passionate about raising the profile of senior black and minority ethnic roles models in the UK as a way of inspiring and encouraging the younger black and minority ethnic population. She is an ideal role model.
Meanwhile, the Race for Opportunity campaign (RfO) has just completed the sixth year of benchmarking with network member organisations and the results of the benchmarking survey have been available from 7 June 2006.
New questions were built into this year's survey to specifically capture information on both race and gender. These new questions were linked to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which had specifically requested assistance from the campaign in gathering data to support their national investigation. The new questions posed focussed on policy and action, as although many organisations in the network have superb policies on race and gender, the campaign is now really trying to uncover and demonstrate the impact these policies have had on taking action on race.
Impact has to be the real and visible measurement of the progress being made through the campaign. The collated responses of the RfO joint effort with the EOC will be available later in the year. However, the RfO can report that 87 per cent of network organisations now monitor the ethnicity and gender of their job applicants using the 2001 Census categories. This is used as one means of trying to reflect the local community in their workforce. 83 per cent of network organisations stated that they use a variety of recruitment resources and methods to attract ethnic minority applicants of both sexes; 63 per cent track how many ethnic minority employees of both sexes participate in development and training activities and 83 per cent regularly consult with ethnic minority employees of both sexes about their experiences working in their organisation. RfO has also started to ask organisations more pointed questions around what they are actually doing to grow and develop ethnic minority talent, particularly to fit senior management positions. There is some movement in this area and the RfO will keep you updated on progress.
The Race for Opportunity campaign, established in 1995, is a growing network of private and public sector organisations working across the UK to promote the business case for race and diversity.
The campaign continually challenges organisations to underpin strategies with concrete actions, guaranteeing a positive impact on business performance.
All organisations that are members of the Race for Opportunity campaign are committed to promoting racial equality within their business and are driven by the business case for race. Employment, including the recruitment, selection, progression and retention of Black and minority ethnic employees, is one of the four key areas the campaign works on in conjunction with affiliated organisations.
For further information on the Race for Opportunity campaign. Please visit http://www.bitc.org.uk/programmes/programme_directory/race_for_opportunity/