Race Equality Matters is not a talk shop. Nor will we fixate on what is not working. We inspire change by co-creating solutions with those with lived experience and working with organisations to implement them to benefit their employees.
Tea Break is one of these solutions.
“The Tea Break is just what we need. I believe that if this had existed previously then many more organisations would have made significantly more progress in their efforts to tackling race inequality.”
Carol Elderfield – HR Director | Amey PLC
What is The Tea Break
The Tea Break provides the framework and opportunity for an organisation to hear the honest voice and feelings of its colleagues about race inequality.
All employees are invited to a one-hour themed, online discussion about an issue that matters. Typically, through Zoom or Teams platforms, individuals can remain anonymous, listen to others or actively participate – it’s freedom of choice.
This initiative was developed through the Solutions Collaboratory™ in collaboration with Network Rail and its staff network, Cultural Fusion, Mental Health First Aid England and those with lived experience from other organisations.
The Tea Break methodology enables courageous conversations. Evidence shows that within the hour, what colleagues are thinking and how they are feeling will become apparent. This gives the organisation and its senior management insights and the opportunity to address concerns and issues that are being shared.
The methodology will clearly enable an organisation to show it is moving from words to meaningful action.
Organisation-wide themed discussion
A live temperature check. An opportunity to create a dialogue and hear a diverse range of thoughts on issues that matter the most regarding race inequality.
Enables courageous conversations
As the structure creates a safe space, people will feel empowered to speak up openly. Often surveys and focus groups do not enable the true depth of thoughts and feelings to come to the surface.
Act on what you hear
The honest voice and feelings of your colleagues will be clear and this enables organisations to take action to tackle race inequality specifically for its employees.
THE CASE FOR TEA BREAK
Race Equality Matters conducted research to identify the barriers and solutions to race inequality in the workplace. The research included a series of over 70 in-depth interviews with a wide range of companies, race networks, D&I experts, employees, and allies, a further 150 race related conversations and a range of events and workshops.
It was clear from the feedback that:
- Ethnic minority employees typically have little or no voice in an organisation.
- Senior leaders and Board members typically overlook or ignore race as an issue to take action on.
- Organisations have found it difficult to reach out to their ethnic minority colleagues during these ongoing, challenging times to provide support and understanding of the different issues involved.
Indeed, our evidence shows that for many, their experiences were exasperated with further negative experiences through ‘activity and conversations’ carried out within their organisations that may not have had the right framework.
Being Genuinely Listened to
The Tea Break concept has been developed in direct response to this feedback, offering a way to initiate meaningful uncomfortable discussions on race inequality across organisations nationally. Recent months have seen intense global focus on race inequality. Much has been said and promised. Now is the time to act.
For Network Rail, its staff network Cultural Fusion, and its employees, Tea Break has been revolutionary in moving the dial on inclusion, uncovering the real issues that matter and taking action. Network Rail utilised the Tea Break idea to reach out to their colleagues, show support, engage, and provide an outlet to discuss lived experiences and feelings on topics including coping mechanisms, grief and mental health.
Since its launch in May 2020, Network Rail has run a weekly Tea Break, reaching thousands of colleagues and covering a wide range of topics.
PROVIDING THE TOOLS, SKILLS AND SUPPORT TO HELP YOU AND YOUR ORGANISATION
At a recent Race Equality Matters event, where Network Rail and Cultural Fusion shared the concept, feedback from over a hundred organisations attending indicated that 71% would be keen to implement the Tea Break.
Seeing its potential for other organisations, Race Equality Matters tested and further developed the Tea Break with experts and ethnic minority employees from a wide range of UK organisations.
Why your organisation should take part
Here are just a few of the benefits of running the Tea Break as identified by Network Rail and those who have co-created the initiative with Race Equality Matters. The Tea Break:
- Fosters inclusion
- Supports well-being
- Highlights issues for action
- Removes barriers and the fear of talking about race
- Normalises conversations on race
- Strengthens belonging
- Builds understanding
- Encourages action
Ask the Tea Break Community
We strongly believe networking and peer support is crucial and we’ve recently set up a peer support network in Guild.
Guild is a community app built for professionals. It is easy to use as an everyday messaging app, it provides private, secure spaces for collaborative discussion without the ads, distractions and sales spam of the big social media platforms.
The Tea Break community will enable all members to connect, ask questions and share best practice, progress and successes.
As a partner on this project, Guild has made it possible for Race Equality Matters to offer free access to the Tea Break Guild Group to help you run it in your organisation
Click HERE to join.
ABOUT OUR COLLABORATORS
Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure, which includes 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 structures including bridges, tunnels and viaducts and thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. It manages 20 of the UK’s largest and most important stations.
Cultural Fusion is an employee network that is open to the entire Network Rail team. It enables them to learn more about their ethnic minority colleagues, and their cultures and histories. The network embraces cultural differences, empowers the voices of network members and helps educate the wider business. It supports Network Rail’s overall Race Matters strategy and provides ethnic minority colleagues with a collective voice to share their lived experiences and thoughts with confidence. Together with the business’s other employee networks, the aim is to make Network Rail a more diverse and inclusive organisation at all levels.
Mental Health First Aid England’s mission is to train one in ten people in mental health awareness and skills. Through their training and campaigning, they equip people with the skills they need to support their own and others’ wellbeing. Most adults spend at least a third of their time at work. MHFA England start there to change how society deals with mental health now and in the future. They provide in-house training and consultancy to organisations of all shapes and sizes. Through working with over 20,000 employers they know that each organisation’s culture is unique, and the key to maintaining a mentally healthy workplace is understanding the people within it. Their courses empower people to notice signs of mental ill health, and encourage them to break down barriers, listen in a non-judgemental way, and signpost to support for recovery.