Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Rethink Mental Illness has been awarded Bronze Trailblazer status!


Mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness impressed our judges with their application and 88% voted for them to receive the Bronze Trailblazer status, with a further 86% also considering them to be the type of organisation they would like to work for as their application demonstrated an inclusive and positive work culture.


Actions and initiatives


Conducted anti-racist progress review and published a Race Equality Action Plan

Rethink Mental Illness asked Oxytocin-Learning to conduct a review of their progress in becoming an anti-racist organisation, and set out several initiatives, some of which are outlined below. Their Race Equality Action Plan and anti-racist statement confirms their pledge to become a truly anti-racist employer, campaigning organisation and service provider and the actions they will take to deliver their anti-racist commitments. The statement was published internally and externally as they want to be held accountable for their progress.

The Race Equality Action Plan sets out the short, medium, and long-term activities that will support their commitment, and is robust and evidence-led to deliver on the recommendations from the Oxytocin-Learning independent review and the recommendations from their internal employee Pledge Groups. There are the three high-level work streams in the Race Equality Action Plan which are supported by key interventions.

Additionally, Rethink Mental Illness signed up to the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter – an initiative designed for organisations to collectively commit to improving equal opportunities for ethnically diverse employees in the UK.


Invested in new EDI and race equity roles and started staff networks


New roles were created to lead on their EDI and anti-racism strategies. These included an Associate Director for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Race Equality, a Head of Equity and Racial Justice to lead, shape and influence their mental health policy for ethnically diverse people, and has a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager and a Racial Justice and Equity Manager to support the design and delivery of their EDI and anti-racism strategies.


Rethink Mental Illness has also launched four staff networks including a Race Equality Action Leaders (REAL) Network for ethnically diverse colleagues. These provide safe and supportive spaces for members to discuss issues, share their lived experiences and contribute to the charity’s policies, processes and practices to ensure EDI is integrated into its functions.


Launched the Mutual Mentoring ‘Discovery’ Programme


This involved their Executive Team, Associate Directors and members of the Race Equality Action Leaders Network to increase understanding of the challenges and aspirations faced by ethnically diverse individuals in their professional and personal lives and to provide them with meaningful mentoring and career development conversations.


Developed charity-wide EDI training


They rolled out training on inclusive leadership behaviours to Associate Directors and other staff across the charity, focussing on themes such as psychological safety and unconscious bias. They also launched a series of bitesize EDI training videos for staff to improve understanding, awareness and knowledge of EDI, and delivered training to the Board of Trustees and the Executive Team on inclusive leadership, what being non-racist is, privilege and allyship.


Impact and Ethnically diverse Staff Endorsement


Examples of the impact as well as the endorsement and involvement from Rethink Mental Illness’ ethnically diverse colleagues:


  • They consulted with diverse employee groups set up to inform them on what their Race Equality Action Plan should look like; they have endorsed and were part of the team that made the action plan
  • They currently measure the plan with constant monthly meetings to ensure they are keeping on top of actions; the CEO keeps them accountable for the actions by their governance which includes the Board of Trustees, a Race Equality Programme Board, Race Equality Delivery Group and the Race Equality Action Leaders REAL Network
  • Ethnically diverse colleagues have felt more open to share stories and experiences and this has happened through fostering an inclusive and psychologically safe space
  • The REAL Network has been a huge catalyst in making this happen and keeping the conversation open for all


Feedback from an Ethnically Diverse Panel


Our Trailblazer judges were impressed and “inspired” by Rethink Mental Illness’ commitment to embedding anti-racism into the core of the organisation which is demonstrated through the development of the Race Action Plan and the publication of the anti-racist statement. They also commended the “clear endorsement and visibility from leadership”. Many also commented on the amount of detail that went into describing the many actions and initiatives they had already implemented, whilst others said the same about their future plans.


One judge called their activities and initiatives such as the Culture Calendar “innovative” and another mentioned the “substantial changes in terms of EDI posts created and recruited” as being a plus. Rethink Mental Illness’ application demonstrated a fervent dedication to progress and a real investment in effective change. The variety of activity demonstrated an all-round approach that seeks to maintain impact and encourage further momentum.


Next Steps…

Rethink Mental Illness has a lot of future plans for continuing to tackle racial inequality, including but not limited to:


  • A suite of initiatives that will champion a diversified talent pool of candidates, employees and suppliers or partners, so that they can ensure an inclusive working environment that touches every part of their collective processes as an organisation
  • Allyship training and listening circles to provide a safe space for employees to come together to learn, making policies and procedures more equitable and the launch of a development scheme to support the career progression of ethnically diverse staff
  • Continuing to implement changes to the Employer Brand through inclusive recruitment and positive action strategies to help them build a diverse workforce across all business areas
  • Developing a ‘Careers Page’ to help us maximise their reach to diverse candidates for roles at the charity and increasing the range of advertised channels
  • Developing and rolling out ‘Creating an Inclusive Mindset’ training to our managers
  • Evaluate and build on the learning and feedback from our ground-breaking Mutual Mentoring ‘Discovery’ Programme with senior leaders and ethnically diverse colleagues
  • Ensuring their new Corporate Strategy 2023 -2028 addresses the mental health inequalities that are disproportionately faced by ethnically diverse communities in its six pillars
  • Developing and embedding an Equality Impact Assessment Framework in all new and reviewed policies, processes and procedures


Follow Rethink Mental Illness’ Lead: Become a Trailblazer

If your organisation is driving change for Race Equality and you can demonstrate impact, endorsement from ethnically diverse employees and share future plans; register your interest for the next round of Trailblazers.


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