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British prime minister Theresa May has rolled out the new Race at Work Charter, a program run by the Prince of Wales that has defined five practical steps for private sector businesses to drive forward race equality in the workplace.

The Charter was signed by companies such as WPP, Shell, Norton Rose Fulbright, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. May further called on organisations from across the UK to improve inclusion and equality in the workplace by appointing an executive sponsor for Race Equality and capturing ethnicity data in order to ensure fair employment practices for everyone.

May also appointed WPP's Karen Blackett as race equality business champion. In her role at WPP as UK country manager, Karen has established an Inclusion Board to ensure diversity. 

Theresa May said: “Every employee deserves the opportunity to progress and fulfil their potential in their chosen field, regardless of which background they are from, but too often ethnic minority employees feel they’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression. That’s why I’m delighted to launch the Race at Work Charter, which gives businesses a clear set of actions to work towards in helping to create greater opportunities for ethnic minority employees at work.

“Our focus is now on making sure the UK’s organisations, boardrooms and senior management teams are truly reflective of the workplaces they manage, and to help companies like WPP, who are already taking action to encourage greater diversity in their workforce.”

Karen Blackett OBE, WPP UK country manager and chairwoman of MediaCom UK & Ireland said: “Embracing diversity and inclusion is not a choice, it’s a business necessity. Clients choose WPP precisely because of the capability and creativity of our people; it’s why we’re focused on attracting, developing and promoting the best talent from across a range of backgrounds. Creativity powers business growth and this only happens by having diversity of talent in the room and reflecting society in the content we create.

“As the UK Government’s Race at Work Champion, I’m committed to helping businesses address inequality at all levels by taking practical steps such as introducing apprenticeships, offering mentorships and capturing ethnicity data to create a more inclusive and representative workforce.”  

The Drum has previously spoken with Blackett, who said that WPP will focus on SMEs and alternative remuneration in its quest for growth.