Colleague Blog: Celebrating and promoting race equality in our workplace
- Tuesday, February 6, 2024
- Posted By The Growth Company
Victoria Braddock began her career at GC 21 years ago. She’s risen through the ranks and last year became the Managing Director of Marketing Manchester.
As it’s Race Equality Week, Victoria reflects on her career and explains the importance of racial equality in the workplace for her – and the need to celebrate cultural differences to ensure that everyone has a sense of belonging when they come to work.
Race Equality Week (5th - 11th February) unites thousands of organisations and individuals to address race equality barriers in the workplace. It allows organisations like ours to reflect and pursue action towards tackling race inequality – the theme for this year’s campaign is: #ListenActChange
For me, inclusivity in the workplace is something I’ve long been passionate about. It runs through the DNA of Greater Manchester, where I work at Marketing Manchester and across the Growth Company.
I believe nobody should be treated any differently because of their race or cultural background, and there must be equity across any workplace, it's the way I've been brought up and it’s how I treat people – that’s why I enjoy working at GC and why I've chosen to work here for so long. GC cares about its colleagues and strives to be an equitable organisation.
I began work here at the Visitor Information Centre, throughout my career I’ve been supported with my progression by managers and team members who have helped me achieve my ambitions and feel comfortable with each progression up the ladder. It’s often overlooked, but being comfortable where you are plays a big role in how you see yourself and the world around you. Being comfortable in the workplace means you can bring your whole self to work; and deliver your best work, this helped my confidence and in turn my progression.
I’m from a mixed-race family – my mum's white and my dad's black, so personally I know that representation matters at all levels. Growing up in an inner-city neighbourhood, our communities were very diverse and very representative of all cultures and race.
Approaching the end of secondary school, I quickly realised that assumptions were made about future careers and where best to target my efforts and I certainly was not being pointed towards university or further education. So, I took a different approach and studied whist working, always aiming to get better at what I was doing. The further I progressed in my career the more I began to notice in some meetings or forums there was a complete lack of diversity that I wasn’t used to.
When I was appointed Managing Director of Marketing Manchester I was quite taken aback at the number of people that reached out to me – because they told me that my promotion meant something to them. We already have a good representation of women in the senior leadership team, but my promotion to the senior management team, clearly meant a lot to others in the GC family, as it did to me. It proved to me, the more we can do to make sure people know we have diversity and equality in our organisation and at the top of our organisation, the better.
I’m not suggesting that we suddenly need to fast-track everybody from less represented communities. There just needs to be equal opportunity – which is something I’m proud to say we actively look into at GC. We have hundreds of job families to get involved in. It's all about creating a sense of opportunity and belonging where people can develop and bring their best self to work because they're comfortable in what they do and who they are – and know they’ll always be treated with dignity and respect.
As I've grown older and been exposed to so many different cultures and races, I embrace my differences as they make me who I am. I also see more representation now whether it’s on the screen, in the workplace, or even just walking around the city centre. At primary school, we celebrated absolutely everything – from Diwali, Eid, to Christmas. Some days I’d come home with fortune cookies and other days I’d have mehndi designs on my hands.
This has also been the case at GC where we’ve looked at how we can celebrate and promote cultural and racial differences to give people a sense of belonging. We're doing this more and more, especially representing diverse ethnic communities through colleague events, keynote speakers, articles and blog posts like this one.
At GC we love to celebrate different cultures and two fun things that always work well are; when you bring colleagues together to share food; or hosting a themed quiz. If you’re tasting it and talking about it, it really does help people to understand diversity. For example, for ‘Black History Month’ we successfully hosted ‘bring a dish to work day’ events across our many offices.
By celebrating these cultural differences we create a sense of belonging and this year we are focusing more on celebrating all of who we are at GC. Our eight EDI networks enable us to do this and ensure we are representative as we possibly can be for our 1,500 colleagues.
We're a social enterprise and here to serve our communities. These communities are diverse, and we must mirror that same diversity in our workforce. Changes to how we recruit are helping us improve the diversity of our teams.
We know and recognise that, for GC to be representative of our communities, we need to look in new places to attract the best talents that is representative. So, we’ve done lots of work to make sure our recruitment practises are inclusive – even down to the places we advertise our vacancies, anonymising CVs, our guaranteed interview scheme, and the language we use in our job adverts.
Making these changes isn’t to disadvantage any other group… I mean, if I'm successful in my job, it doesn't have to be at the detriment for other people's success, we can all collectively win. Do you know the analogy about flowers blossoming? – the flowers don't look round to see if the other one's blossoming, as long as they've all got the right conditions and sunshine and water, everyone will blossom.
For me, equity starts with recruitment – that’s GC’s front door, and one of the main ways we talk about our organisation to the outside world. And when people enter through the front door, they need to feel that they're in an environment where they belong, where they can see like-minded people.
Discrimination can sometimes be lots of small things that can build over time – a little comments here, swipe there, or a little insinuation. Sometimes it can arise from misuse of language and use of outdated phrases or thinking. These may not be used to cause offence but they offend, and we need to be comfortable challenging and educating people.
In any organisation, senior management teams must reflect on their workforce data, and feedback from HR processes and hold a mirror up to their organisation. Sometimes they might not like what they see – which can lead to very honest conversations about the need to address some of their barriers to race equality, diversity and inclusion.
Our GC Senior Management Team have demonstrated clear direction and leadership in terms of listening, challenging the status quo and implementing change with robust processes, frameworks and tools to support our colleagues to have the right conversations to move the dial forward on equality – without the fear of saying, or doing, the wrong thing.
Our colleagues need to feel that they’re in a supported environment and if something stands out to them as not being right – they need to do something about it and know they've got somebody in our organisation that they can go and talk to. That could be somebody in the opposite team to them, somebody within HR, or raise it through our ‘Dignity at Work‘ procedure.
This week, we’ve relaunched our ‘GC Racial Equality framework’. I know that some may say do we need to have this? My answer is a resounding ‘yes we do’ – because we need to be confident in what we're doing and saying in the equality space and make strong statements. It's part of our organisation’s values, and if we don't have the framework, how can we be checking ourselves?
Our colleagues may have a slightly different experiences or understanding of race quality and what it means to our organisation. I'll have a different experience from working in Marketing Manchester to somebody who works in a Skill Centre in Sheffield.
So, for many, seeing the framework will give them a sense of reassurance and belonging. It's an articulation of what we’ve done and what we still need to achieve and doing all this in a consistent way across all our locations – that’s a fundamental part of it.
You can't change everything overnight. For GC, we’ve delivered lots of positive things which are continually improving the way that people view our organisation, encouraging them to want to work with us, and stay with us.
You can find out more about Race Equality Week on the Race Equality Matters website.
Find out more about life working at GC on our website which includes our commitments to diversity, equality and inclusion an where you can find details of our EDI commitment, and Guaranteed Interview Scheme.