We’re delighted that two of our employees, Vannessa Whitehead and Fernando Sanchez-Molina, have been named in the global EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Model List. Vannessa and Fernando are co-chairs of Unity, our colleague-led network that helps us to engage and develop an ethnically and culturally inclusive workforce.
Unity is one of our six colleague-led networks that works to provide support and a sense of community for groups of employees, as well as making sure all our people’s voices are heard.
EMpower is part of INvolve, a membership organisation championing diversity and inclusion in business. Supported by Yahoo Finance, EMpower creates the list to showcase inspirational people of colour who are making a significant contribution to ethnic minority inclusion at work.
Following the announcement, Vannessa commented:
"This nomination is a reflection of the hard work, determination and passion of the Unity team. It’s recognition of the steep hill we’ve climbed in a short time and some phenomenal achievements along the way.
Since we began, we’ve opened up discussions on race, encouraged honesty and frankness and provided a safe space, we’ve mentored, been role models, influenced policies and challenged perceptions, we’ve organised events, raised awareness and collaborated with wonderful people.
The #BlackLivesMatter focus has further highlighted the urgency for systemic change. Whilst we wish the catalyst was different, we intend to use it to push harder than ever and to advocate for meaningful and sustainable change. We hope we have empowered many to do the same. Representation matters.!
"I am honoured to have been selected alongside this group of people aiming to drive change in our own industries, share experiences and ultimately achieve even more impactful results. This recognition is also an acknowledgement of the work across the network and business to address ethnic and cultural challenges and opportunities.
While there has been positive movement in our industry, we are not where we need to be yet. Representation is still low across all levels in the corporate world, and these numbers are rarely representative of their own communities and customers.
The challenge is for companies to take bold actions that build on the steps already taken, and really accelerate change. As a company, we have an opportunity to continue raising awareness of issues such as representation and lack of opportunities."
Aymeric Forest, our Global Head of Multi-Asset Investing, is one of our company’s leadership sponsors for the Unity network. He added:
"Vannessa and Fernando, as co-chairs and driving forces of Unity, have helped apply an ethnicity lens to relevant HR processes and policies, and develop action plans to improve ethnic diversity in our business. They have taken a series of initiatives to help us talk respectfully and with confidence about race at work, to celebrate multiculturalism, but also to have an impact on our local community. We are delighted that their role has been recognised."
Our priorities for supporting diversity and inclusion are defined in a framework that consolidates what is most important for us to achieve together. Our ethnicity action plan forms part of the collective actions we are taking to build an inclusive culture, and was created in partnership with the Unity network. Many of these actions are already underway and we maintain a focus on areas that have a sustainable and systemic impact. You can read more about this in our diversity and inclusion report 2019.