Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Royal British Legion have been awarded Bronze Trailblazer status!


Armed forces charity Royal British Legion have faced and overcome many challenges to tackling racial inequality but 100% of our Trailblazer judges agreed that their application demonstrated evidence of the action they have taken and commended the bravery it had taken to achieve the outcomes.


Actions and initiatives


D&I Audit and launching RBL’s first charity-wide D&I Action Plan


RBL conducted a D&I audit which involved several focus groups to gather an accurate picture of D&I at RBL and understand the main areas of change that were needed from the perspective of these colleagues. This included an ethnicity-specific group not open to White colleagues and the contributions were completely anonymised to encourage as open of a discussion as possible and gather relevant anecdotes.

The D&I action plan focuses on the following key commitments: fostering a positive and inclusive culture, ensuring everyone can succeed, engaging with and involving our members to progress D&I and encouraging everyone to be inclusive every day. Racial equality comes under each of these commitments as they push to ensure that no matter their background, all colleagues are empowered to succeed and enjoy their time at RBL. Additionally, prior to 2021 RBL did not have a D&I person or team as identified as a key area to change in the audit, but there is now currently a growing, dedicated team.


Establishing and growing a BAME staff network


The staff network has executive sponsorship and is growing in numbers and they also introduced Trustee mentorship of the network committee throughout their objective building process. They are currently focused on finalising official objectives for the group going forwards. In addition they established a D&I Leadership Steering Group with the main aim of embedding D&I across the charity’s work. It includes representatives from across RBL and from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.


D&I training for staff at all levels


There is compulsory D&I training at Trustee, Executive Board, Directors, and Membership Council level covering Inclusive Leadership, and courses such as unconscious bias and inclusive recruitment offered to all colleagues, with additional exclusive training funded for staff network chairs and executive sponsors.

The Remembrance team has dedicated resources into ensuring that RBL’s members and supporters understand that Remembrance encapsulates all communities beyond White British. RBL also support the teaching of Remembrance across the UK and have designed a range of free teaching resources for schools and families which all recognise the contributions and sacrifices made across the Commonwealth


Conducted Staff Engagement Survey


An external and anonymous staff-wide survey was conducted, giving colleagues the opportunity to share their thoughts about their working experiences, as RBL recognised that it was important to gather feedback from ethnically diverse colleagues outside of the BAME Network. At the time of submitting their application, the Head of D&I was in the process of reviewing the responses from certain communities and how these reflect on the D&I Action Plan’s progress thus far. This will give the D&I team an updated picture of ethnic diversity at RBL and where progress needs to be made.


Social media posts


The social media team have stepped up as active allies and supported the Remembrance team in sharing stories from ethnically diverse members of the Armed Forces community. Although they received some backlash in the comments sections, this showed that RBL were committed to raising awareness of and tackling racial inequality externally as well as internally and there was, as Trailblazer judges’ feedback concluded, “clear communications both internally and externally to ensure I&D is embedded.”


Impact and Ethnically diverse Staff Endorsement


Some of the ways in which RBL’s actions and initiatives have had impact and been embraced by ethnically diverse staff are as follows:


  • Upon submitting their Trailblazer application, RBL’s BAME Network had 82 members and was growing
  • The BAME Network’s opinions and suggestions were important to the process of the D&I Action Plan and the Network Chair coordinated drop-ins and opportunities for members to ask questions about the draft before it was finalised
  • All members of the BAME Network have been involved in the process of finalising objectives, targets and highlighting where support from other departments is needed
  • The staff survey received 108 (out of 1,307) responses from colleagues from BAME communities, equating to 75% of RBL’s ethnically diverse workforce
  • Quotes from ethnically diverse staff who are part of the BAME Network include: “The RBL BAME network encourages me to feel okay to share and talk about my heritage in a network of supportive and like-minded colleagues”, and “The network provides a welcoming space for colleagues of different backgrounds but similar experiences to come together and share and support one another. Ultimately, this enables me to feel more represented, included and fulfilled in my work life.
  • The results of research by The Social Impact Consultancy on RBL’s staff networks showed that the BAME Network scored the highest with a score of 8.7/10, proving a high and positive impact on its members
  • Staff training, though also in their early stages, attracted roughly 30-40+ attendees per session


Feedback from an Ethnically Diverse Panel


Many of our Trailblazer judges praised RBL’s application for the data and quotes included to demonstrate the impact made so far, even though in their infancy in the road to tackling racial inequality. One commented that it was “great to see such an organisation has come this far already” with “ the first steps they’ve taken to improve understanding of ethnic minorities”, while another said they had a “good set of activities and seem to be taking this very seriously.”

Others also commended the engagement from staff, both in and out of the BAME Network and endorsement from senior leadership, including trustees, and mentioned the allyship some staff and teams have shown. RBL’s commitment to engagement and communication was further noted, for example, the “innovative communications used to effectively reach colleagues from across the organisation, including care home colleagues, through the dispensing of posters and leaflets.”


The activities shared by RBL provided “substantial clarity on the current issues being faced by ethnically diverse colleagues and the organisation as a whole.” To solve this, solutions were presented and a clear roadmap to instigate change was put forward. Our panellists understood the significant size of the organisation and its membership and praised RBL’s dedication to ensure reach and recognition of change.


Next Steps…


RBL recognises that although some steps have been made, there is a long way to go in their D&I journey with a lot to learn across the charity. Some upcoming actions include:

  • Continuing to follow the D&I Action Plan and continue focusing on the key commitments through all channels and working groups that have been set up
  • Leading on sessions focusing on “inclusive conversations”. In attempt to widen the reach of these training sessions, there are discussions around recording parts of the training to form a podcast that all colleagues can access
  • With senior leadership support (Trustee, Executive Sponsor and Head of D&I), the BAME Network will finalise their objectives (short, medium, and long-term) and present them to the charity. This will form the basis of how the network and its members will proceed and what they will prioritise, such as compulsory charity-wide anti-racism training
  • The BAME Network will collaborate with Care Home leadership to establish the best means of communicating with Care Home colleagues and encouraging them to join the network. In the meantime, the network will continue to host drop-ins for the wider network and drop-ins for ethnically diverse members
  • Hosting events around D&I calendar dates to raise awareness and encourage better understanding of issues and histories. These include Windrush, Remembrance Day, Black History Month and South Asian Heritage Month, among others


Follow RBL’s 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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