Our mission to drive race equality


25 August 2021

In a diverse society we can only best serve our customers, if our workforce better reflects that of the UK population. Diversity is what makes us great. But sadly, racism still exists in society. A year ago, we launched our Ethnicity Action Plan - a set of five commitments to continue our journey in driving change and engaging our people in raising their own awareness in becoming allies and advocates of race equality. To further cement our commitment to race equality, we also signed the Business in the Community’s (BITC) Race at Work Charter in October 2020, and the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) Change the Race Ratio in November 2020. Twelve months on, it’s time to review our progress.

Ethnicity Action Plan


Develop an action plan which will include targets for ethnic representation and the reporting of our ethnic pay gap

To know if we’re making a difference, we need to better understand our make-up today. We launched a data collection campaign, Fairer in Five, in March. It asked employees to spend five minutes answering seven questions about who they are. As of 19 August, 44% of our UK employees had responded to the campaign. By better understanding our workforce we can create a more inclusive environment that better reflects our customers.

Earlier this year, our board committed to change at the very top, by agreeing to create a more diverse board by 2024.


Ensure our employee voice forums are representative of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues

We want to ensure all our employees voices are heard. Colleague representation from ethnic minority backgrounds has increased on our employee forums, but this is an area we need to improve on. We’re currently working with relevant stakeholders to put together a set of actions for the second half of 2021 to further support this commitment.


Review our recruitment practices to ensure they are free of bias

We launched the digital training module ‘Inclusive Recruitment’ in August 2020 to support everyone involved in recruitment to make fair and equitable decisions - since launch, many of our hiring managers have completed the module.

We’ve also commissioned a third-party provider - Resource Solutions - to undertake an inclusive recruitment audit in Q1 of this year.


Further educate our people by running campaigns to increase the focus on the learning materials available to them

There’s value in coming together, continuing to raise awareness of key issues and ensuring our people are provided with the right information. We’ve held many events, workshops and conferences for our employees and senior leaders. And, we’ve also launched a number of tools to help engage our employees:

  • Launched in July 2020, The Inclusion Allies guide has received over 2,300 engagements.
  • We released the Let’s Talk About Race guide in October 2020
  • During Black History Month 2020, an internal blog series, ‘Black Stories Matter’ sharing stories and real-life experiences of our colleagues, received over 6,000 engagements.
  • Launched the Speak Up LinkedIn learning series.

We have lots more planned, including celebrating Black History Month 2021.


Consider the viability of a more focussed development solution to develop diverse talent

Driving an increased representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities in senior level roles comes from unlocking the potential of our current employees. Five employees participated in BITC’s 2021 Cross Organisational Mentoring Circles programme, which is aimed at supporting talent through a mentoring programme. Following the success of the first programme, we’re looking to select the 2022 cohort.

Moving forward, in September we’re launching a mandatory learning module titled Everyday Inclusion at AXA, and we’re rolling out a new talent development programme to help our people progress further.

So how are we doing?

We’ve made great progress in the last 12 months, there is certainly more that needs to be done, but we’re immensely proud of how our employees have embraced the journey we’re on so far. From recruitment tools to mentoring programmes, to speaking up, every action counts and they all add up to creating a more diverse workplace.

Our employee resource group representing ethnicity, REACH, has recently appointed two new leaders. Darren Tanner, Head of Real Estate, AXA Commercial, joins as Chair of REACH. And, Deepak Soni, Commercial Director, AXA Commercial, joins as the new REACH Executive Sponsor.

Deepak Soni, AXA REACH Executive Sponsor

“As we progress against our Ethnicity Action Plan, I’m really pleased that we’ve made great progress, but there remains more to be done. Our ambition is to be an inspiring employer where our people represent our wider society and the customers we serve. By harnessing the power of diverse perspectives, experience and backgrounds, we’ll give all our employees the confidence to progress, realising their full potential.

“We want to create an inclusive culture of respect and kindness. A culture where everyone is welcome. We believe a happy and engaged workforce, that strives to celebrate diversity, enables us to be the very best we can be for our customers. ”

Deepak Soni, REACH Executive Sponsor