BT’s Ethnic Diversity Network (EDN) acts as a strategic D&I partner, working with various teams and external partners including the Aleto Foundation a social mobility charity providing ‘real world’ and practical support to young people, together with Business in the Community to help deliver its strategy of being the best place to work. The network is a much-valued partner which has worked tirelessly to ensure BT is able to attract, recruit and retain ethnic minority colleagues, working with several teams to enhance colleague experience.
The network has supported the graduate recruitment team and collaborated with 11 additional external organisations and delivered a Spotlight Series showcasing senior leaders from ethnic minority backgrounds to help inspire colleagues.
To recognise colleagues for championing greater inclusivity for all colleagues, the EDN delivered the first Stand Together Awards and launched ‘EDN local champions and allies’ movement across different locations and business units to create opportunities for conversations and shared learning in safe spaces. The network also led the development and delivery of several awareness-raising sessions that all had three core objectives (togetherness, education and allyship) and helped to establish the East and South East Asian Network, a platform promoting inclusivity and amplifying the colleague’s voices.
An Early Careers Division was set up by the network to help meet the needs of early entry graduates and apprentices, while the graduate recruitment team was supported in an online recruitment initiative that was delivered with an external partner. The network also worked with the Pride Network to deliver an intersectionality event during Black History Month.
BT’s People Networks champion the concerns and priorities of their members, liaising regularly with the D&I Centre of Expertise and their executive committee sponsors. The networks regularly organise awareness-raising events and make recommendations and proposals to enhance their D&I plans.
More than 252 virtual workshops have been delivered to BT senior colleagues while a digital learning option has been provided to all non-managers which have been accessed by around 81,000 colleagues.
BT’s new Accelerate fast-stream programme has 156 ethnic minority colleagues participating. Over 100 senior colleagues have taken part in the reverse mentoring programme, with more than 500 reverse-mentoring conversations.
This year, in the UK, 20% of the new apprentices joining BT were from ethnic minority backgrounds, with 7% identifying as black (up from 16% in the previous year). In Openreach, ethnic minority apprentices made up 18% of the new intake, with 5.4% of them identifying as black.
BT’s revamped graduate recruitment campaign and early careers strategy also led to an increase in the intake of ethnic minority graduates. 41% of new graduates came from ethnic minority backgrounds, an increase on 38% last year. The number of black and black heritage graduates also increased from 4% to 12%.
BT continues to work towards fulfilling its commitments. The Accelerate fast-stream programme will continue to grow to improve equality of opportunity in the workplace for colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds. The reverse mentoring programme will progress into its second year with senior colleagues having conversations about ethnicity related issues in safe spaces.
BT also aims to build on the progress made in attracting and recruiting ethnic minority graduates, interns, apprentices and senior colleagues. This will include having diverse shortlists for senior roles and strengthening the relationships developed with external partners like the Aleto Foundation and 10,000 Black Interns, the organisation spearheading paid internships for young people from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
BT will continue to roll out the mandatory race-awareness training across the business. Hispanic and Latino colleagues will also have the opportunity to join black colleagues on the McKinsey Black Leadership Programme.
EDI is important because we need fairness and equality. It makes business sense, but aside from that, it’s just the right thing to do. I hope that our staff have felt inspired and felt a sense of community, that they feel they can thrive irrespective of things they once thought would hold them back.