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Celebrating Black History Month: Working towards a more equitable future

Macquarie has been celebrating Black History Month in the UK, but as our Fusion EMEA Employee Network Group explains, supporting an inclusive, equitable and accountable culture is something Macquarie strives for year-round.

Macquarie has strengthened its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) focus on racial equity, making this year’s Black History Month celebration more impactful than ever, tackling issues of discrimination. We provided a safe space to talk about race and how we can continue to take action to improve racial equity.

To mark Black History Month this year, Macquarie’s Fusion EMEA Employee Network Group organised a wide range of activities across the month, celebrating Black culture and empowering all employees to act for inclusion. Macquarie’s London office featured a pop-up art exhibition by acclaimed artist Hanifa Queen, as well as displaying important messaging on racial equity. Employee-led events included a leadership panel featuring Black senior leaders sharing their career journeys through to getting promoted, and how to overcome challenges in the face of adversity.

Launched in 2017, with a growing membership of more than 630 members of staff – over a quarter of our employees in the region, Macquarie’s Fusion EMEA network aims to connect and empower colleagues from different races, ethnicities, cultures and faiths around the issues that matter to them and the communities they live in.

Macquarie regularly invites guests to speak about the issues they face in their personal and professional lives, with previous speakers including bestselling Black author Reni Eddo-Lodge and historian David Olusoga OBE. After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Fusion launched a ‘Know Better, Do Better’ education campaign, a key early part of the DEI advocacy work that came out of the Black Lives Matter movement. Fusion have also organised active bystander training courses, enabling staff to feel empowered to call out incidences of aggression and discrimination in public and learning ways to support a victim. This year, as part of the celebration of our annual East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) Heritage Month the network also hosted Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam to share insights on his heritage, the importance of diversity and authenticity, and the significance of enjoying what you do.

Alan Leung, co-chair of Fusion EMEA, comments: “We are continuing to work with our DEI team to empower our people of all backgrounds. We’re also ramping up our engagement strategy, with guides to staff on, for example, how to have honest conversations about race. It’s all about education and action. People at Macquarie always ask, ‘What can I do?’.”

Creating safe spaces

For Macquarie, the concept of a ‘safe space’ is vital. Many staff wanted to talk about race, their own experiences and the change that needed to happen. Creating the right environment for these discussions to ensure that people can be as candid and open as they need to be is key.

Charlene McIntosh, co-chair of Fusion EMEA explains: “It means the world to me to be able to help drive change, we need to keep asking difficult questions and have challenging or uncomfortable conversations to ultimately get to where we want to be.

 “We have developed a framework with questions and ground rules in place to create an environment to have these often challenging and confronting conversations. In addition, a diverse group of people will offer an equally diverse range of contributions so creating a psychologically safe forum to share concerns and ideas, can only be positive.”

Intersectionality is also forming an important part of Macquarie’s evolving DEI strategy. It is key to understanding individual experiences and will underpin how we continue to embed our inclusive culture. Our allyship programme has taken many staff who are not Black, Asian or from a minority ethnic background on a journey to becoming good allies.

Charlene adds: “Our responsibility for the future is to take all this work further, to continue having these challenging conversations and channelling learning throughout the organisation. Continuing to build momentum, awareness and support across the organisation is the only way to drive the initiative forward—learning from each other, confronting our own biases and working together for a more equitable future for everyone.”

DEI at Macquarie

This activity is a key part of Macquarie’s strategic DEI initiatives, which have accelerated in reach and impact over the past few years. Such initiatives include our buddy programme which allows new starters to request a buddy who shares their identity – for example their ethnicity, and the EMEA sponsorship programme supports groups that are under-represented in our senior management population as well as all our Black employees.

Sarah Fennell, Macquarie’s head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in EMEA highlights: "We carry out listening exercises to understand the experiences of all our staff to make sure that the DEI strategy is not only driven by data but real employee needs. From the positive feedback we received, we know that these staff members feel that their voices are being heard. We’ve also implemented training for our senior population and are currently rolling out inclusive leadership to all directors – to ensure our leaders are equipped to lead everyone in their team.”

DEI has become a pivotal part of any organisational culture and Macquarie is in it for the long haul, embedding fairness at the heart of our ethos through our practices, policies and processes—shifting the emphasis from ‘shareholders’ to ‘stakeholders’. Recognising that graduates want to work for a company that aligns with their own ideals, Macquarie engages in early career recruitment, talking to university undergraduates about its DEI values.

Sarah adds, “we want to ensure that everyone feels that they can succeed at Macquarie. That’s the point. An equitable culture has trust at its heart, where everyone knows that the organisation is a place where they can thrive.”

Recognising that organisational cultures are driven by all those within them, recruitment is a crucial pillar of our engagement—attracting ethnically diverse applicants. “We are focused on increasing our Black population but, if the culture isn’t right internally, recruitment isn’t enough. We need to make sure that we build and maintain an equitable environment.”

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