As long as I can remember, black people have been murdered by white policemen in the United States in ways so horrific that it has dominated the world’s news. Each time, I’ve been horrified along with almost everybody else. But I’ve also always believed – and wanted to believe – that, underneath, things were getting better. And that here in the UK, things were improving even faster. Watching the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent demonstrations across the world this year shattered those beliefs. There isn’t a gradual positive process that is underway. The UK doesn’t have any reason to feel complacent. We’re nowhere near where we need to be and we need fundamental change. We’re still living in a world of white privilege, even white supremacy. Racism is deep within our societies. People like me, with white looking skin, benefit from advantages in life almost every day, just as people of colour suffer setbacks almost every single day. As an individual it is my responsibility to do what I can to change and to help. As Chief Executive of Lansons it’s my job to lead the company’s programme of change.
On this subject, we’re not shy of our record. Lansons has a proud history of combatting inequality and supporting fantastic causes, particularly as a champion of gender equality and being a great place to work – and we are rightly famous for these things. We can also claim a good record on diversity and people of colour. Throughout most of our history the proportion of our workforce who are people of colour has been around 10%, the UK average – indeed in late 2019, 12% of our Board were people of colour. Our work experience programme forms partnership with social mobility organisations and targets schools in disadvantaged areas and we support a wide range of causes in the diversity space. But that is not enough. Now is a time for listening and learning – and we are doing that – but it is, more importantly, also a time for action.
I’ve worked with my co-founder and our Chair Clare Parsons, senior colleagues on our management board, our HR team and others in the firm to develop a holistic approach to diversity and inclusion for people of colour. Here is a short summary of what we’re currently doing, at the time of writing, in Summer 2020.
This is our action list in Summer 2020. If you have any comments to make, either positive or questioning, please email me at TonyL@lansons.com . We are committed to playing our part to make this a fairer and therefore a better world for us all to live in.