It became quickly clear that the appropriate response for us (outside clear acknowledgement to staff of our support for the BLM movement) was twofold: first, proper and deep understanding of the issues; and second, a detailed look under our own agency bonnet, which included time spent talking to people and teams internally who identify as POC. We didn't want to go out with an arbitrary "black square" or "Recipe supports BLM" without first understanding the issues (in this country, in this industry and in our agency).
Recipe's Response – a Race Charter:
We felt that the most important thing for all agencies to recognise, Recipe included, is that the key objective must be to move to becoming an actively anti-racist agency. And, again, this requires understanding the institutional, systemic issues that we need to actively address. Systemic racism is complex, often subtle and muti-faceted. There's no single action that you can take, it requires a series of changes and actions. So we have put together a Race Charter, which outlines six key areas. This has been presented internally and we've set up a Race Council, which will be tasked with delivering the actions outlined.
Recipe believes that its charter is a good starting point, but that the implementation of the actions is the important part.
Our pledges in the Recipe Race charter are:
1. Making our commitment to change visible and transparent
While we spent time internally as a direct response to the BLM movement, we recognise the need (both for staff and for the industry as a whole) to make our actions, beliefs and pledges transparent and visible. And, in part, this is about sharing what we're doing – what's working, what isn't – with the industry as a whole so we can collectively learn and improve.
2. Creating a genuinely inclusive culture
Diversity is a result of inclusivity. Without inclusivity, diversity is meaningless. While we have a culture we're really proud of, and one that we have invested in managing and maintaining as we grow, we haven't explicitly and clearly called out inclusivity as part of this. For all staff, for new starters and for our clients, it's crucial that we have clear and tangible actions in place that ensure all employees feel included and valued, have clear development plans and equal opportunities. This includes a clear narrative on addressing racist actions and behaviours if they occur, how the agency responds, where employees can go if they experience it, and how the whole business can become allies.
3. Investing in education, learning and development
Although racism is systemic, it's not always widely understood nor always acknowledged. Education on race, unconscious bias and inclusion is vital to dismantle it. We'll be running a series of training programmes – from allyship to managing inclusive cultures – as well as partnering the likes of Creative Access. In addition to this, with so many great resources (written, AV, audio) available, we will be organising these and creating a digital “library”, which will be available to all staff, with some key content marked as mandatory for leadership and senior managers.
4. Reinventing both recruitment and outreach
There's clearly a problem of proper diversity within the industry, and one cause of this is a lack of targeted/active outreach and recruitment mentalities and processes, which help perpetuate the problem. We want to tackle this through training on unconscious bias, outreach partners, paid internship programmes and a far more “conscious” recruitment approach.
5. Create and empower a Recipe Race Council
As mentioned, this is a crucial element of our charter – one that creates a centralised function for delivering the charter actions. But also one that acts as a "go to" space for race-related issues. We're also very aware that we can't see this initial charter as a “job done” – it will require constant evolution. Our Race Council will allow us to continue to evolve our actions over time.
6. Setting clear and accountable goals
This was the final area and in some ways the simplest. Behind the charter is a desire to make changes to our business to improve diversity and inclusivity. So we'll be asking all employees to complete a short survey, which will encompass both qualitative measures on how inclusive the agency feels as well as quantitative measures on how diverse our organisation is. The survey will run each year and the results will be shared each time with the whole agency.
While Recipe is not a racist organisation (that became clear throughout internal discussions), we had never formally or explicitly talked about this issue, nor had we clearly set out any action plans to improve either diversity or inclusivity. This was a clear sign that we weren't doing enough (overtly) to be actively anti-racist.
BAME pay gap
Ahead of a staff survey, an initial "top-down" survey showed no pay gap.