Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Croydon Council have been awarded Tea Break solution Trailblazer status!

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. 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. In a 2022 Race Equality Matters’ Event, 85% of attendees thought that Tea Break would facilitate their organisation to have uncomfortable conversations about race inequality. The Tea Break methodology enables courageous conversations. This gives the organisation and its senior management insights and the opportunity to address concerns and issues that are being shared.

Croydon Council is making genuine steps towards tackling racial inequality, facilitated by their successful implementation of Tea Break. The independent judges- all of whom are ethnically diverse- unanimously recognised the successful implementation of the Tea Break solution within the organisation. As one of the three successful Tea Break Trailblazer applicants, Croydon Council’s action is a pioneering example of making positive change towards racial equality. Through this, other organisations can learn and implement Tea Break in their own workplace.

Tea Break

Hard Truths: Listening to ethnically diverse employees

Croydon Council used Tea Break as a mechanism for conducting difficult conversations with their ethnically diverse staff regarding issues of career development. 146 people attended the event, which thematically focused on career development for ethnically diverse employees. The comments and feedback provided in the session were used to ‘ignite’ policy and process changes in the organisation. 

Tea Break sessions revealed that the council would benefit from a more robust feedback loop for internal candidates and training managers, to enhance the quality and quantity of proper and constructive feedback. The need for internal candidates to be better coached and for talent management processes to be improved were also highlighted. 

Consequently, one of the measures the council took was to establish the EDI Internal Control Board, consisting of senior leadership, staff network chairs, guardians and representatives of each Directorate. The board partakes in open and honest conversation regarding race and ensures a voice for ethnically diverse staff. 

The Tea Break has also helped shape new areas for development within the organisation, including: a zero-tolerance policy statement; adoption of diverse recruitment panels and increased recruitment monitoring; proposals for workplace mediations to address grievances; Positive Action Training Programmes; better development of skills and career paths; and inclusive decision-making approaches.

Creating Change and Impact

All judges unanimously voted that Croydon Council’s Tea Break had prompted future action in tackling race inequality. The council have demonstrated strong stakeholder engagement to achieve buy-in from the top and have taken a clear organisation stance against racism. 

One judge commented that there was ‘tangible evidence of how voices had been amplified and were being understood, with representation being considered in key decision making.’ Another judge praised the council for its wide-ranging outcomes on individual and systematic levels. 

Next Steps…

Moving forward, Croydon Council looks to continue the use of Tea Break and the conversations it facilitates. Beyond the application of Tea Break, the council is working on a range of initiatives to support and promote inclusion in the workplace. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Review LBC interviewing techniques – using a competency-based framework. 
  • Identify barriers to progression from secondments, and how they encourage staff development Review of promotion pathways.
  • Conduct analysis of existing Talent Management Programmes & Training.
  • Continue to have diverse panels to challenge unconscious bias and refine procedures.
  • Use Guardians programme to raise unfair practices and process.
  • The establishment of the EDI Board and the voices of ethnic staff as members of the board have widened the scope of conversations about race further than career progression. These include commitment to three activities in the George Floyd Race Matters Pledge as detailed: 
    • 1. Working to become an anti-racist organisation by embedding this in their strategies, and behaviours and by making a difference to the lived experience of our communities. 
    • 2. Committing to zero tolerance of racism from employees, residents, customers and service users by challenging racist behaviour or stereotypes expressed by individuals.
    • 3. Developing knowledge of anti-racist practice by listening and responding to experiences of staff and the wider community. 
  • The EDI Internal Control Board have a programme of work which includes all organisational equality issues along with issue relating to race. 
  • Reconsider the use of the term BAME within the organisation.
  • Explore how to introduce an effective anti-racist strategy.
  • Address Gender, Disability and Ethnicity Pay gaps. 
  • Partake in the #MyNameIs campaign.
  • Review representation on Internal Control Boards.


Croydon have also  developed two pledges the Croydon Equalities Pledge and George Floyd Race Matters Pledge. Each pledge has 10 priorities and we focus on 3 each year. 

They are currently working on working to become an anti racist organisation and have joined the pilot programme for Chief Executive’s London Councils’ Tackling racial Injustice programme. 

They have also agreed an anti racist framework which we have deferred since joining the London pilot scheme. 

Though they have not yet formalised the change they now use the terms Global Majority, racialised staff and minoritized staff to describe staff as opposed to the use of BAME. 

Their CMT have committed to reciprocal mentoring and establishing an allyship group. 

They have included anti racism as a local characteristic in our equality analysis process.  

Follow Croydon Council’s Lead: Become a Trailblazer 

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnic background employees and share future plans; register your interest to be considered for the next round of trailblazers.

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