Since the killing of George Floyd on 25 May by a white police officer, the Black Lives Matter movement has united people across the globe to give voice to the injustice and violence imposed on black lives every day. The movement is highlighting the experiences of black people in a world where systemic racism remains, and the profound effects those experiences have on their lives. It has also given focus to a wider campaign against racial inequality, including in the workplace, and the barriers faced by people in ethnic minority groups at work.
Black Lives Matter protests continue to inform many of us about what it is like to be black in a racially unjust world. Penningtons Manches Cooper is committed to equality and ensuring that our firm is a place where people of all races feel welcome, supported and respected. In 2016 we set up our diversity and inclusion committee, with the aim of encouraging and developing a more inclusive workforce. We created six sub groups to focus on key aspects, one of which is the race and faith group. Whilst we have made progress, much of it behind the scenes, the events of the last few weeks have made it clear that we must do much more.
It is right that we take the time to do that now and to do it properly – one of the messages that has come through very clearly is the importance of listening. We want to ensure that our actions have a meaningful impact.
Working closely with our race and faith group, we are providing space and time both formally and informally for colleagues of all races and faiths – and in particular black and ethnic minority colleagues – to be heard. We will listen to our colleagues when they share their individual experiences, reflect and take action to make necessary changes. This is an “across the board commitment” and one which will be facilitated both at a team level and through the race and faith group.
So all of us in the Penningtons Manches Cooper community can become better informed, we are curating and sharing important material that explains the extent to which bias and discrimination continues to exist today. In addition, our race and faith group have recommended a number of causes tackling grass roots racial injustice with which we could partner to provide financial support and further deepen our understanding.
Having these conversations and making a commitment to ongoing listening and learning will help us deliver on a plan to make concrete changes that will improve equality, diversity and inclusivity in our business.