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All on board for race equality

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Jason and Angie

Jason and Angie are two of the 36 Metropolitan Thames Valley colleagues participating in the Black on Board training programme.

This October, 20 Metropolitan Thames Valley customers and colleagues from BAME backgrounds took their first steps towards becoming future board members, at the start of our first Black on Board training programme.

Delivered by race equality charity, Olmec, the programme will eventually provide training to a total of 36 Metropolitan Thames Valley colleagues and four customers over the next two years.

In the UK, people from BAME backgrounds are underrepresented at board level. In 2017, UK citizens from ethnic minorities made up around 14 per cent of the population but only accounted for two per cent of director positions. By providing people from ethnic minorities with the right skills, knowledge and experience to apply for board positions, Black on Board aims to redress the balance and improve racial diversity at governance level in all kinds of organisations.

The training programme is open to Metropolitan Thames Valley customers and colleagues at all stages in their careers, and each trainee took part in a selection process to get their place on the oversubscribed course. The programme has two cohorts of trainees, each running part-time for around five months.

Trainee Chana King, Learning and Organisation Development Manager at Metropolitan Thames Valley, said: “I applied as I have always been interested in board and committees yet always thought that this was something not for me. Considering how huge and diverse the housing sector is, it seems strange that women and people of colour are massively underrepresented in decision-making roles in the sector.

“I am hoping to be one of the people who are successful in gaining a board position through this programme and even if I am not, I will have learnt enough about governance, strategy and business planning to be able to be more effective in my current role at MTVH.”

John Mayford, CEO at Olmec, said: “It is vital for good decision making and the health of our communities that decision makers reflect the diversity of our communities. By 2030, 30 per cent of the UK population is expected to be a ‘person of colour’. The 2017 McGregor-Smith review suggested the economy could receive a £24 billion annual boost if businesses stamped out ethnic inequality.

“We have a solution. On average, around three quarters of trainees on Black on Board go on to secure board positions in a variety of organisations, so it’s a really useful course for delegates, for both their own career development and also an effective way of promoting race equality in society as a whole.”