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Equality, diversity and inclusion at RDG

This year for Black History Month, we’re publishing a series of blogs by members of the RDG’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) network, Embrace.

Ola OgunThis blog was written by Ola Ogun, Chief Financial Officer at the RDG, whose responsibilities include the Human Resources (HR) function, and executive sponsor of Embrace.

It’s been just over two years since I started at RDG, so probably a good point to reflect on my time at the company. Specifically, given it was recently National Inclusion Week and we’re in the middle of Black History Month, I’d like to focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the company, across all protected characteristics.

From the start, one thing that struck me from my first conversation with Paul, my boss, right through the rest of the Executive team (Exec), is the commitment to ensure equality through the organisation.

To be clear, we’re acutely aware we’ve ‘only just’ embarked on our EDI journey – ‘only just’ in this context probably spanning the last 5 years but arguably turbocharged in the last 12 months. For example, about this time last year, the Exec agreed we should give even more focus to EDI, a decision which resulted in several key initiatives across the business:

  • Executive sponsorship of employee network groups including DAN (our Disability Awareness Network), Embrace (our Black, Asian, Minority Ethnicity – BAME – network), MHAG (our Mental Health Awareness Group) and Platform (our LGBTQ+ network)
  • A standing agenda item at each Executive committee meeting to discuss EDI across the organisation (more on this below)
  • Launch of an EDI survey earlier this year to provide insight into our current EDI posture and areas that required more focus

So, the commitment from the Exec was there, but it was this last initiative (the EDI survey) which has provided the springboard for even more action being taken across so many areas of the business. With feedback received from the survey and engagement from our network groups, we’ve implemented (or are in the process of implementing), several initiatives:

  • Stemming from a discussion between Paul and the Embrace network, we’ve compiled our ethnicity pay gap data and have published this on our intranet and public website. More importantly, we’re carrying out a deep dive into our data, again working with the Embrace network, to better understand any barriers to attraction, progression and retention.
  • Ensuring that our recruitment practices are robust in terms of EDI. This is carried out in conjunction with our network groups and has resulted, for example, in changes to the application process with summary profiles being submitted instead of CVs, to reduce unconscious bias in the recruitment process.
  • Increased engagement with employees via our network groups and the Inclusion Forum (IF), formed shortly after the EDI survey, comprising of network group leads and allies from across the company. In the short time since inception, the IF has driven several changes, including an ongoing review of the employee journey at RDG – key to understanding how we might further improve EDI.
  • Quarterly reporting and analysis of our diversity data; perhaps unsurprisingly, this is one of my pet projects. Whilst the IF and our network groups focus on changes to the culture of the company, there’s a place for measuring our stats and ensuring the various initiatives are having the desired impact; for example, in the last 6 months, 52% of starters were from BAME background. As an Exec team, we review and discuss this report during our regular meetings, as part of the standing agenda item mentioned earlier.

All these have contributed to an environment and culture where we’re actively seeking to improve EDI, across all characteristics within RDG, and one where members of staff feel supported and able to challenge in areas where we can do more. Needless to say, we are very conscious of this need to do more, as reflected in two specific initiatives being implemented shortly:

  • Launching a mentoring and reverse mentoring scheme – the latter to provide leaders with insight into the issues being faced, or (dare I say) positive feedback from our staff.
  • Providing Unconscious Bias Training for all RDG employees – available for the Exec through to every member of staff.

Hopefully, we’re on the right track to achieve the I in EDI, and I firmly believe we have the foundation, and the support of our allies across all characteristics, with which to continue our EDI journey.

Personally, the ongoing pandemic and Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement challenged the separation between personal and corporate life which I’d always maintained, and prompted me to ask, ‘What more could I do in the EDI space?’

One answer: more conversations with people from different backgrounds across the business.

The same question was being repeated across the RDG BAME community; so much so, that individually, and collectively as Embrace, we’ve started to engage the business in a series of conversations to educate ourselves on how to make the working environment even better, and conversations about how our allies can support with driving equitability and equality in all we do.

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