Leading by listening
I am delighted to be back once again writing for DRIVE, a unique publication that examines life at Enterprise, our culture, and the opportunities we offer our employees through the lens of gender diversity.
We took a break from DRIVE as we weathered the global pandemic. COVID-19 was a shock to the business. We had to react immediately. During this time the tragic killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor took place. As a business we had to stop and take stock and open ourselves to change.
In this article I want to talk about leading by listening, especially in relation to diversity and inclusion among our black and minority ethnic employees.
"As the next step to everything that we’ve done on inclusion and equality so far, we now need to focus on race and equality for our black and ethnic minority employees"
At Enterprise you will often hear people saying that we succeed when ‘we listen to our people and we listen to our customers’, and this year, we have learned the power of this simple aphorism.
The stories in DRIVE are a testament to Enterprise’s commitment to building a diverse and inclusive community, where everyone feels welcome.
However, when we launched a series of listening sessions with many black and ethnic minority employees, a new picture emerged. We learned that there was a lot more that we could do to make Enterprise a more welcoming and supportive workplace for these colleagues.
I am so grateful to those employees who took part in our listening sessions and who shared their stories so openly and generously. We could not lead change in our company without their willingness to tell us about their issues.
"I am so grateful to those employees who took part in our listening sessions and who shared their stories so openly and generously"
What we learned is that our diversity of employees is better than average. Over twenty percent of our employees are of black or ethnic minority descent, which is higher than the UK figure of seven and a half per cent. In some of our operating Groups the number of BAME employees is as high as 40 per cent. But can we do more?
So we wanted to understand how our black and minority ethnic employees feel when they come into work. What is it like being a BAME employee in our company and in our communities? What change do we want to continue to strive for in our organisation, culture and the locations we serve? And what could and should we do to create a better Enterprise experience?
Listening to the answers revealed that many ethnic minority employees feel that the company needs to see more emphasis on their needs.
As the next step to everything that we’ve done on inclusion and equality so far, we now need to focus on race and equality for our black and ethnic minority employees.
We created Embrace, a national committee co-chaired by Kalifa Hickinson and me, to put action plans in place. The listening sessions were the first step and they have helped us to define the agenda. They have been eye-opening, personal and sometimes emotional. As an ethnic minority and a man of colour myself, I am committed to driving this change.
I want every black and BAME employee at Enterprise to know that we will be active in fighting racism for them. You have allies in the business who will not stand for those comments or behaviours.
We are committed to continuing the education of our employees on race matters.
"Over twenty percent of our employees are of black or ethnic minority descent, which is higher than the UK figure of seven and a half per cent"
Our Black History Month programme was a four-week schedule of events looking at the lives and impacts of black people in the UK and at Enterprise, which are covered more in-depth in this edition of DRIVE. We profiled many of our black employees, shared videos, podcasts and articles on black history, and invited many of our senior leaders to share information on the black experience in the UK.
I am incredibly grateful to be part of the Enterprise family and I am proud of how we responded to these events as a business by working as one and by being open to listening to one another.
I believe our ability to embrace change will define us in the future, which will no doubt have further challenges. I know that we are now well positioned for growth and that we have the best people in the industry. Enterprise has an incredibly bright future and we should all be optimistic that our efforts drive change.
Thank you again for everything that you do every day to make this a better business for all.