The world is undergoing a reckoning about how to tackle racial injustice. During this process, greater allyship and advocacy are essential to driving change.
Every year major diversity and membership organisation INvolve creates role model lists — supported by Yahoo Finance — of people of colour who are future leaders and executives at some of the largest companies in the world. They are the EMpower lists.
It is also essential to celebrate the advocates who are consistently championing change. The EMpower top 20 advocate executives list celebrates senior leaders who are not people of colour but are dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive business environment for ethnic minority employees.
All the executives listed were nominated by peers and employees. Nominations were then reviewed by EMpower’s judging panel, which included head of Yahoo Finance UK Lianna Brinded. The panel scored nominees on: the influence of their role; their impact on ethnic minority inclusion inside and outside the workplace; and their business achievements.
“There has never been a more important time for leaders in business to give their support for action against racial inequality,” said Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO of INvolve.
“Our EMpower Advocates List features senior business executives who have dedicated themselves to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces for ethnic minority employees.”
1) David Kenny, CEO, Nielsen
David is both Nielsen's CEO and chief diversity officer. He has implemented numerous accountability measures, including tying executive incentives to D&I contributions, implementing executive leader representation for every ERG, setting the expectation that all people managers must be active in the ERG programme, updating the company annual performance to include personal contributions to D&I, and implementing an inclusion index for the ongoing employee engagement survey.
David filed an Amicus brief with the Supreme Court supporting the exclusion of a citizenship question to the 2020 census which would have potentially discouraged minority participation, and brought together industry bodies to oppose the undercounting of diverse populations.
As a result, the Supreme Court questioned the administration's motives, and the citizenship question was removed. He has also supported preserving the DACA programme and signing The Hispanic Promise.
2) David Hynam, CEO, Bupa Global and UK
As CEO, David promotes a culture that celebrates diversity and inclusion at all levels. He’s launched ‘Be You at Bupa’ – the company’s public commitment to inclusion – and also sponsors colleagues from underrepresented groups. Under David's leadership this year, Bupa has made strides in mitigating unconscious bias in recruiting, and continues to outperform diversity benchmarks. Bupa has over 1,000 colleagues undertaking apprenticeships.
The company has contemplation spaces and faith rooms in all its major offices. Bupa also participates in EMpower's cross-company mentoring programme and supports calls for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting.
Last year, David became the first signatory to the 'Leaders as Change Agents' government-backed pledge, which sets out to champion D&I in business. He is also chairman at HomeServeUK, where he has supported the creation of a D&I Council.
3) Anne Erni, chief people officer, Audible
Anne drives a culture at Audible that embraces all the glories of the human spectrum. She introduced the D&I function to three organisations – Lehman Brothers, Bloomberg, and now Audible.
Anne founded and co-chaired Audible's Activate Caring Committee, which addressed racial issues pertaining to the company's content offerings, and the Audible Workplace Taskforce, which addressed psychological safety, intersectionality, race and hate debates, and gender equity. She is a mentor in W.O.M.E.N. In America (WIA), a development programme for high potential women, with a focus on women of colour. She has also supported Johns Hopkins University's efforts to drive diversity in its faculty.
An effort that Anne is most proud of is pioneering “Encore,” the first “back to work” programme for women who had left the workplace for extended periods to care for their children, which launched at Lehman Brothers in 2005 and thrives nationally in the US today.
4) Jim Fitterling, CEO, Dow
Jim is Executive Sponsor of Dow’s Global African Affinity Network (GAAN), and a member of GLAD, Dow’s LGBTQ+ and ally employee resource group. He advocated for the addition of a Chief Inclusion Officer role at Dow, and, as sponsor of the GAAN, challenged the network to globalize.
He advocated for four Historically Black Universities to be included as Tier One recruiting schools in Dow’s strategic talent management program, and supported the first ERG-created sponsorship program, Advocacy in Action, targeting experienced African American employees with exceptional performance histories to participate in a structured sponsorship program with the company's senior leaders.
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Jim and his fellow Dow (DOW) delegates participated in discussions on the importance of inclusion and equality in advancing the world's economy. He also engaged with ethnic minority talent at the annual BEST and Diamond Symposium to welcome future generations of leaders.
5) Dominic Christian, global chairman, reinsurance solutions, Aon
At Aon, Dominic chairs the Diversity Council, which manages the company's approach to D&I and incorporates their seven BRGs. He supported the development of Aon's Step Up trainee programme, which attracts young people not in education, employment or training to get valuable experience and skills to enable them to enter the job market, often resulting in a role with Aon.
Dominic sponsors six BAME women across the industry, and has contributed to initiatives designed to attract BAME talent to Aon. He has contributed to the development of a BAME Future Leaders programme, and sponsors the company's multicultural BRG.
Dominic also chairs Inclusion@Lloyd's, affording him influence across the whole insurance industry to drive a culture of inclusion, and he was instrumental in devising the group's Dive In festival, now in its fifth year. He sponsors the Lord Mayor's Appeal, supporting social mobility and ethnic minority groups.
6) Kathleen Russ, senior partner, Travers Smith
At Travers Smith, Kathleen chairs the Diversity & Inclusion Board, and is an ally member of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Group and of the LGBTQ+ Group. She is the public ambassador of the firm and one of the main keepers of the D&I strategy.
She sponsors the firm's BAME recruitment and retention strategy, which aims to create fairness at critical inflection points of BAME lawyers' careers. Kathleen, with strong support from her fellow partners, has also instigated and led numerous initiatives, including sessions on challenging racial biases and micro-aggressions, a firm-wide 'Celebration of Black Music' event, and a 'Meet the Senior Partner' session for members of the firm's BAME network.
Externally, Kathleen has sponsored and helped to develop an innovative booklet outlining how to be a better ally for the BAME community. Kathleen also supports organisations which develop BAME-led startups and BAME entrepreneurs.
7) Sir John Parker, chairman, Laing O'Rourke
Alongside a wealth of leadership and boardroom experience, from shipbuilding and mining, to utilities, aerospace, central banking and engineering, Sir John chairs the Parker Review Committee, which was commissioned in 2016 to consult on the ethnic diversity of UK boards.
A series of recommendations were made in the review's first report, and a target was set for all FTSE 100 boards to have at least one director from an ethnic minority background by 2021. This target has provided an imperative for businesses to improve their approach to D&I at the highest level, and an update at the beginning of this year shows an increase in the number of ethnic minority directors.
Although Sir John notes that progress has been made, he is still driving a push for greater ethnic minority representation on boards, hoping to bring this strand of diversity in line with the progress made in recent years in increasing the representation of women on FTSE 100 boards.
8) John Herlihy, vice-president EMEA & LATAM, LinkedIn
John is the executive sponsor of LinkedIn's Embrace programme, which aims to empower LinkedIn to fully welcome and represent all cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. A key element is to overcome unconscious bias and foster inclusion by embracing cultural, nationality and ethnic diversity at every level of the organisation. This is approached by promoting professional development and growth of ethnic minorities collaboratively across the EMEA and LATAM regions. This has led to the development of a retention programme, regular networking roundtables with members and allies and close partnerships with external organisations to inspire the next generation of diverse tech talent, such as LinkedIn's support of the Black Girls Teach Summit in London.
9) Ileana Sodani, managing director and head of international sales, asset servicing, BNY Mellon
Ileana is the executive sponsor in EMEA for IMPACT, BNY Mellon's ERG supporting D&I in the workplace. In order to foster a more inclusive workplace and to attract senior leaders from diverse backgrounds, Ileana and IMPACT are encouraging discussion through forums, workshops, and honest blogs.
She has spearheaded a self-identification campaign, encouraging staff to celebrate their ethnicity and provide more complete data for metrics. Ileana is working to recruit from more diverse universities and colleges, and held sessions throughout 2019 on discussing race and role models, among other D&I-related topics.
She is an adviser to the Steering Group of the Tiffany Circle, supporting the Red Cross, and she personally supports 'Women on the Front Line, an annual event highlighting the strength, diversity and accomplishments of women fighting corruption and war. Ileana is also a founding member of The Network of Networks, connecting Women, BAME, and LGBT+ leaders across companies.
10) Simon Roberts, CEO, Sainsbury's Supermarkets
Simon is a Board Sponsor and Steering Group Chair for Ethnicity, Religion & Belief at Sainsbury's, in addition to sponsoring the Black Colleague Working Group, and being a member of the Diversity Steering Group.
He has been instrumental in driving the business to set aspirational targets on BAME inclusion at the highest levels of leadership, and he leads a BAME mentoring circle.
He has hosted South Asian colleague listening sessions and black colleague listening sessions, which led to the creation of the Black Colleague Action Group.
He actively champions the progression of BAME colleagues within the retail business, and is active in the development of strategy for the ethnicity, religion and belief workstream and BAME network.
11) David Shelley, chief executive, Hachette UK
At Hachette UK, David started the 'Changing the Story' D&I initiative, running it for two years, then empowering others to lead, and he continues to champion the initiative and amplify its messages in all communications and actions.
He created the 'Diverse Future Leaders' scheme to mentor talented people of colour in the organisation, and voluntarily published Hachette UK's first ethnicity pay gap last year, alongside committing to do the same each year from now on. He holds regular meetings with the HR director, other senior leaders and THRIVE, the organisation's ethnicity advocacy network, to discuss goals and priorities for the company.
David supports Dialogue, Hachette's imprint for diverse voices run by Sharmaine Lovegrove, and The Future Bookshelf, and initiative which opens submissions of work by people of colour. He mentors through EMpower, and works with the Stephen Lawrence Trust to talk to schoolchildren about publishing.
12) Nick Studer, managing partner, Oliver Wyman
Nick promotes diversity and inclusion from his position on Oliver Wyman's executive committee, where he sponsors on the RED strategy and is a member of the Inclusion Council.
He is executive sponsor for the EMPOWERED network, a participant, ally and member of 'Men for Change' with Women of Oliver Wyman, and a participant and ally with GLOW, the LGBT+ network. Nick created the company's first RED strategy and sponsored its implementation.
The strategy included a self-declaration programme, setting baselines and targets, implementing dedicated recruiting initiatives and a targeted sponsorship programme, improving staffing and talent management, and implementing multiple firm-wide communication and training programmes. Externally, Nick supports the charity Prisoners Abroad. He also supports User Voice and Teach First.
13) Jackie Uhi, head of network, HSBC
Jackie is on the UK Culture & Engagement Committee (UKCES) and the Executive Women's Forum SteerCo, and she contributes to Women on Boards, supports the Atlas Mentoring Platform, Women Ahead, and is executive sponsor of the Embrace Network at HSBC (HSBA.L).
She acts as a trusted adviser for Embraces' committee, and helps in particular to engage with senior stakeholders at the bank. As an executive on UKCES, Jackie regularly challengers her seniors on D&I topics, such as the ethnicity pay gap. She encourages her team leaders to proactively promote D&I by hosting working group sessions with staff from ethnically diverse backgrounds, among other initiatives.
Jackie has worked with the CEO of the Diana Award, leading to opportunities for HSBC colleagues to mentor and make a difference to the lives of young people, mostly from BAME backgrounds.
14) Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner, PwC UK
As UK chairman of PwC, Kevin is the sponsor of all diversity and inclusion initiatives across the business.
Over the past year, HR teams and volunteer 'Colourbrave' champions have held focus group discussions and surveys with hundreds of ethnic minority employees to better understand their experiences of working at PwC and how the culture can be evolved to create a stronger feeling of belonging and inclusion.
PwC was one of the first companies to publish their ethnicity pay gap, and latest figures show a decrease in the ethnicity and gender pay gaps each year. Kevin ensures there are D&I action plans in place, with an explicit focus on senior level accountability and incentives for partners who take specific and positive steps to promote inclusion. PwC has partnered with UKBlackTech, and Kevin mentors ethnic minority leaders at PwC to support ethnic minority progression into leadership positions.
15) Samantha Mobley, partner, Baker McKenzie
At Baker McKenzie, Samantha is a partner lead for BakerEthnicity and the leader of the Colour Brave campaign, which she launched and continues to champion. She encourages junior members of BakerEthnicity to develop and promote activities including the official launch of Mentoring Circles for BAME employees.
As a member of the firm's London Management Committee, Samantha has supported the introduction of ethnicity workforce targets and publishing ethnicity pay gap data. In the last year, Samantha has worked to push individual departments to be accountable for the diversity profile of their teams.
She is currently exploring engagement with a number of external member organisations to promote and share good practice. These organisations include the Employer's Network for Inclusion and Equality, and Race for Opportunity.
16) Elizabeth Martin, partner in the securities division, Goldman Sachs
Elizabeth co-chairs the Global Inclusion & Diversity Committee, and is a member of the EMEA Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
These governance and accountability bodies help the firm and its senior leadership plan and execute their D&I strategy. Elizabeth is involved in various firm-wide mentoring programs for diverse professionals in the gender, BAME and LGBT+ spaces, and gives developmental feedback and advice to diverse professionals in the Global Markets division regarding how to navigate career progression in the sales and trading business.
Elizabeth is actively involved in advocating for a more inclusive society with clients. She engages clients through roundtable discussions and best practice sharing exercises, sharing Goldman Sachs’ approach to D&I and talent management to illustrate how client organisations can create more inclusive environments.
17) David Farrow, head of international corporate banking, Barclays
At Barclays, David is the Executive Committee sponsor of the Corporate Bank Embrace Network, and drives engagement across the UK and globally to support the multicultural agenda for BAME colleagues and allies. He is the executive sponsor for colleague listening groups in association with INvolve, where colleagues are encouraged to give open and honest feedback and share experiences and issues in a safe environment. David leads the effort to syndicate results and follow-up actions to fellow Executive Committee members. He encourages his teams to celebrate diversity, sometimes using national celebrations or religious festivals to encourage traditional dress and cultural exchange.
He has also encouraged the network to run diversity events with clients. He often speaks as a panellist on D&I issues, and runs Global Town Hall sessions to discuss D&I.
18) Jessica Walsh, managing director, H+K Strategies
Jessica co-founded H+K Strategies' diversity and inclusion change project, EquALL, for which she is now executive sponsor. The group has conducted extensive research to underpin their work across three areas: how they build an equal culture, how equality is driven through creativity, and how it is experienced by the agency's people.
The group looks at all streams of diversity to create an agency where people bring their whole selves to work, share beliefs and have a voice. Jessica is involved with The Wing London, promoting a culture of diversity and women's entrepreneurship in London. She has worked with various patient organisations as an advocate for people living with rare diseases.
19) Robert Lawson, global head of M&A, BP
Robert co-founded and initially chaired BP's Positively Ethnic Network (PEN) and has been a committed supporter of ethnic minorities at BP (BP.L) since. He has acted as an ambassador and sponsor for PEN and a speaker at internal events.
From 2018, he has been the lead executive overseeing ethnicity and related activities in BP's Canary Wharf offices, and he is a passionate advocate for the need to analyse and benchmark ethnicity data relating to the workforce in order to monitor progress, remove any biases and drive sustainable change. Robert is on the advisory boards of three world-leading business schools, using the opportunity to provide career coaching to emerging ethnic minority leaders.
20) Andrew Bagley, head of the EMEA legal department, Goldman Sachs
At Goldman Sachs, Andrew is a member of the EMEA Inclusion and Diversity Committee (EIDC), and a regional sponsor of the EMEA Firmwide Black Network (FBN). He uses his platform as a senior leader to enhance the company’s culture of diversity and inclusion, and as a member of the EIDC he is involved in key strategic decisions regarding the D&I strategy of the firm in EMEA.
Andrew provides mentorship, sponsorship and high-profile visibility as a sponsor of the FBN to ensure the company’s diverse talent gets the right exposure and platforms to influence change.
He participates in and promotes the network’s Black History Month programming, hosting and speaking at various sessions. Over the past few years, Andrew and Goldman Sachs have partnered with a number of ground-breaking schemes, including the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship with Freshfields, Pathways to Law with Allen & Overy, Networked with Herbert Smith Freehills and Future Leaders with Hogan Lovells, to build a more diverse talent pipeline.