ESG Clarity and DiversityQ team up with reboot. to tackle racial inequality in the workplace

Raising awareness about race in the workplace by tackling conscious and unconscious biases


Natalie Kenway

ESG Clarity and sister publication DiversityQ has partnered up with the reboot. campaign to spotlight the journeys of successful ethnic minority professionals who have risen to senior positions in the corporate world.

Set up by Noreen Biddle Shah (pictured), marketing and communications managing director at State Street, the reboot. network is releasing a series of videos on LinkedIn with black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals it has identified as redefining the corporate world. Via ESG Clarity, these members will also share their insights through exclusive comment pieces.

The series aims to support positive dialogue on race in the workplace as well as engage senior leadership across large organisations to help tackle conscious and unconscious biases. The network said the campaign name is built from a simple mantra:

  • Take control of the narrative
  • Alter your perceptions and inherent biases
  • Delete racial inequality in the workplace. Time to reboot.

See also: – IA flags FTSE 350 companies lacking board ethnic diversity

Here, Shah answers ESG Clarity’s questions on reboot.:

Why did you decide to set up reboot.?

The Black Lives Matter movement and the spotlight it has put on systemic racism has been monumental and continues to have ripple effects across the globe. Many ethnic minorities started talking and questioning certain practices in ways we hadn’t before or at least more explicitly or publicly. I decided to share my dad’s story about how institutional racism impacted him in the 1980s when he worked for a FTSE 100 company. It is a sad story I’m afraid but not that unique either. Many BAMEs who read it found it very relatable.

On a positive note, I was encouraged by the outpouring of support and how much people wanted to step up and do and say more. This was the catalyst that eventually led to conversations with my marketing and communications friends across the industry and reboot. was born. We all come from diverse backgrounds and want to use our skills to help keep the dialogue and awareness going.

Who is involved in the functioning of the network (individuals and organisations)?

We have an advisory board comprised largely of public company and private sector executives to help guide us and are also supported by agency allies; all volunteering their time to support this important effort. They are equally as passionate to change the tone and I’m genuinely excited about what together we can achieve.

Our advisory panel comprises:

Baroness Helena Morrissey (co-founder, 30% Club and chair, Diversity Project); Suki Sandhu, OBE (founder, Audeliss); Melissa Lawrence (CEO, Taylor Bennett Foundation);  Peter Shorthouse, (director of treasury & structured finance, the Paragon Group of Companies); Hannah Grove (former chief marketing officer, State Street); Richard Lacaille (CIO, State Street Global Advisors); and Andy Muncer (head of international marketing, State Street).

Our agency allies are:

Communications and Content; Citigate Dewe Rogerson; FTI Consulting, Momentum; Rhotic Media; and Signal AI.

What is the key ambition of reboot?

Our aim is to raise awareness about race in the workplace through storytelling in a way that humanises the dialogue and helps tackle conscious and unconscious biases, contributing to real change.

For the investment industry specifically, we’re working with the Diversity Project’s Race & Ethnicity work stream and #TalkAboutBlack. The workstream will play a leadership role in enhancing the professional development of ethnic minorities with the aim of furthering hiring, retention and professional development, while ensuring an inclusive experience.  

Why it is so important to give a voice to the BAME community within financial services?

While the initial focus of reboot. is financial services, we expect the work and stories to be relevant across industries, because the themes and issues are by no means unique to one particular sector, and the criticality of tackling these issues now is profound. For example, racial equality has the potential to boost the UK economy by as much as £24bn per year – not a number to be ignored in a post-Covid world. However, the reality today is that ethnic minority groups are less able to secure opportunities for job progression or employment that matches their skills and abilities.

Ethnic minorities make up 14% of the UK working age population, yet only account for 6% of senior positions, 5% of CEOs in FTSE 100 organisations, and 3% of the most prominent 1,000 people in the UK. This all adds up to a £3.2bn pay gap for ethnic minority workers in the UK versus their white peers. Beyond the numbers are real people with a story to share – often highlighting the obstacles of microaggressions, unconscious and conscious biases that are in their way as they climb the corporate ladder.

What are your hopes for diversity evolution in the investment industry over the next five years? What would you like to see?

We would like to see an upward trajectory over time so that ethnic minorities are fairly represented across all levels – from entry to the most senior positions and the £3.2bn pay gap reduced significantly.

We also need to make sure BAME doesn’t become a “catch-all” term and that there is a fair representation across the black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities. Understanding these nuances will be put into real action by groups such as the Race & Ethnicity workstream to support diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace so it’s meaningful and sustainable.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of an inclusive working culture in tackling the lack of representation at senior levels for ethnic minorities. Quotas and policies play an important role, but we need companies to understand that prioritising an inclusive culture is critical for financial results to be achieved. It’s not a nice to have – it’s business critical.

ESG Clarity and DiversityQ are delighted to partner with reboot. on this series. Can you explain what you have coming up for us?

We will be spotlighting the journeys of successful ethnic minority professionals in financial services who have risen to senior positions in the corporate world despite the societal challenges they have and continue to face. Many are interviewed by their senior leaders to delve into their career journeys and the obstacles they have overcome, plus thoughts on how to achieve a truly inclusive workplace.

Organisations participating include 30% Club, Accenture, Capital International Group, Citi, Invesco, Natwest Markets, State Street and more. We hope more will come forward as we continue to grow and share these important stories.


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