Reflecting on a year of change – supporting our Black colleagues and communities

Jason Tarry
Jason Tarry

It’s been one year to the day since the murder of George Floyd. This crime resonated around the world and shone a light on racial and ethnic inequality.  

We work hard to create an inclusive environment at Tesco, where everyone is welcome and all colleagues are treated how they want to be treated. This is core to our values. But the murder of George Floyd, and the grief and outrage that followed, made us think harder about what we could and should be doing to support our black colleagues and the wider black community.

Today, I want to share an update on some of this important work: 

  • Throughout 2020, we ran Executive-led listening sessions with colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds, to seek their input on how we can make Tesco a more inclusive workplace offering rewarding career opportunities to everyone. We will continue to hold listening sessions throughout 2021.
  • Last year, 55% of our Own Your Career programme was made up of ethnically diverse colleagues, helping to support under-represented groups with their development. We have also recently introduced Diverse Talent Communities - sponsored by the Executive team, and supporting our young ethnic talent through career planning, guidance and increased visibility. Next month, we will welcome colleagues on our first Business Diversity internship - 45% will be from ethnically diverse backgrounds, compared to 14% in 2020. We must continue to do more to help attract black and other diverse talent to Tesco.
  • Our senior leaders attended masterclasses focusing on privilege, bias and race equality to build more inclusive behaviours, and we created a guide for all colleagues to learn how to be better allies to colleagues from minority groups. In particular, the race masterclass was informed by the debates led by the Black Lives Matter movement and supported by our BAME colleague network.
  • We are running 2 cohorts of our Executive mentoring programme with Arrival Education, which includes all our business leaders.
  • We have a really strong team in our BAME at Tesco colleague network, who all work to raise awareness of inclusion and drive fundamental change. Celebrating the efforts of our colleagues, the network placed in the top 10 at last year’s Ethnicity Awards – a fantastic achievement.
  • Our Every Voice Matters and This is Me surveys are enabling us to build a more detailed picture of diversity across our business, helping us to more clearly inform our improvement plans.

To better represent diverse communities, our leadership team joined customer-focused inclusion training to support product design, labelling, packaging and creating communications.           The Customer team work hard to ensure our campaigns are inclusive both in front and behind the scenes - such as our Christmas 2020 campaign (directed by a female, black director) - and we are working towards marking key cultural or religious dates more frequently.

In addition to our work inside our business, we support the work or commitments of various external organisations, including Arrival Education to help young and diverse talent outside of Tesco; Add Psalt, which helps black-owned businesses bring products to market; and the Race at Work Charter, which we signed in 2019. In the months ahead, we will share our progression against our commitments to inclusion in the Sunday Times open letter, which was published last year. We have also agreed a new partnership with the Black British Network who will help us consult with other businesses about black inclusion, which will in turn help us improve the experience and look at other tangible actions specifically for black colleagues in Tesco.

We remain deeply committed to supporting our black and other ethnic minority colleagues. As well as the work outlined above, we’re also focusing on how we recruit, train, support, promote and celebrate our colleagues. We know we have some way to go on this journey, and there is no quick fix, but we are committed to creating long term solutions that make Tesco more diverse and inclusive. To do this, we will work together to listen and learn, be open to challenge and change, and to undertake the changes needed to bring this about.

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