Time for action (and words)

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.

 

Our language

  • Lansons accepts that white privilege is real and can also be described as white supremacy
  • Racism exists in our country, our industry and the industries we work in
  • As a business we have to change and do better in future on the issue of skin colour
  • We continue to listen to others on the language we use, but currently we say “people of colour”
  • Inequality is one of the three key challenges that humanity is facing, the others are climate crisis and the threat to democracy

 

Our recruitment

  • We changed junior recruitment policy in February 2020 to ensure more than 15% of junior recruits are people of colour
  • We’ve now changed recruitment policy for all levels to strive to interview candidates of colour for all positions
  • We will only work with recruiters that offer 15%+ of acceptable candidates who are people of colour

 

Our culture

  • Our HR team, working with senior management, have responsibility for ensuring our culture is inclusive and welcoming to all
  • We’re forming a diversity group, a voluntary group to share ideas and challenge the company
  • We’ll be running a programme of diversity awareness and engagement workshops and considering compulsory unconscious bias training
  • We will consider both mentoring and reverse mentoring within our firm

 

Our people

  • We will target 15%+  of our people to be people of colour by 2022, this should include 15%+ senior composition, at Board and Associate Director levels

 

Our footprint

  • We will target 15%+ BAME representation in Lansons panel events, blogs/ films etc (as we do women with BBC 50/50)
  • We will hold a significant number of events to tackle diversity & inclusion issues
  • The senior Lansons team (Board and Associate Directors) will show that that they are passionate about combatting inequality and are anti-racist
  • The imagery we use in all presentations, website, other materials will be reflective of a diverse society

 

Our voice

  • As a business we will champion diversity & inclusion issues
  • We will help tell and spread stories that illustrate the problems that have to be overcome and the need for change
  • We will advise our clients that it is in their interests to reflect society and, if necessary, change

 

Community

  • We will create more partnerships with diversity causes, organisations and charities

 

Suppliers

  • We want our providers and suppliers across the whole company to be reflective of our diversity ambition

 

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.

Tony Langham

Chief Executive and Co-Founder