Race Equality Matters is pleased to announce that Westminster City 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.


As well as being awarded the Bronze Trailblazer status, Westminster City Council have also made further genuine steps towards tackling racial inequality by their successful implementation of Tea Break. The independent judges – all of whom are ethnically diverse – unanimously agreed that their application demonstrated that significant action had been taken in addressing racial inequality through the Tea Break initiative. Through this, other organisations can learn and implement Tea Break in their own workplace.


Tea Break

Hard Truths: Listening to ethnically diverse employees

In the wake of the number of incidents towards racialised communities in 2020, Westminster recognised the stress some of their staff were feeling, including loneliness and isolation as well as emotions charged from the pandemic and other issues, such as George Floyd’s murder and the fact that many ethnically diverse people were at higher risk of dying from Covid.


At organisational weekly meetings they decided to hold conversations about how people felt and it also created a space for awkward conversations, with personal support being offered by an occupational therapist. Staff were given a space by the CEO, other senior leaders and the Global Majority staff network to be vulnerable and share their own experiences as well as feelings around the incidents that had happened and how it affected people. This includes those who are Black with children and Black women who have experienced baby loss for Baby Loss Awareness Week.


As an organisation committed to being anti-racist, Westminster have mentoring schemes which take place with members of staff and the Met Police so ethnically diverse staff are able to speak to Police on how their treatment can make people from the Global Majority feel. As an organisation, staff are welcome to host events or conversations around issues that affect diverse communities and employees. This has allowed for individuals to learn what it is like to be someone else and when those biases kick in to try and mitigate them before making a decision about a person or situation, linking back to their commitment to being anti-racist.


Creating Change and Impact


Judging panellists all voted that significant action has been taken by Westminster in addressing racial inequality through the Tea Break initiative and was a strong pass across all of the necessary criteria. They also said Westminster showed “great use of resources with clear considerations towards psychological safety” and were impressed by CEO and senior leadership buy-in and endorsement.


Combined with Westminster’s recent Bronze Trailblazer status, through the implementation of Tea Break their application demonstrated a real commitment and investment in their workforce to ensure they are working towards effectively creating a culture of belonging. Panellists praised their “pursuit of creating informed and safe spaces where important conversations could be had” as well as “the openness and opportunity created for real learning and understanding to take place.” Additionally, more than 83% of judges agreed that their application showed clear and substantial or good evidence Tea Break prompted future action on racial inequality.


You can read more about Westminster’s Bronze Trailblazer award here.


Next Steps…


As Westminster continues its journey to tackling racial inequality, some of their future work in addition to what they said in their Bronze Trailblazer application, includes:


  • Raising awareness of the ethnicity pay gap agenda and their commitment to reducing it
  • Rolling out unconscious bias training to staff
  • Introducing mandatory Inclusive Recruitment training which includes diverse panels


Follow Westminster’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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