It’s All About Race Roadshow – a journey toward anti-racism in hospitality 

By Olajide Alabi, Equality & Inclusion Partner at Turtle Bay 

In the UK, racism is still unfortunately very prevalent, it is ingrained in the systems and structures that hold the country together. However, our industry is probably one of the most diverse, which presents a real opportunity for change. 

At Turtle Bay we have 47 restaurants and 2,000 team members. With such a big, diverse team, it is our duty to ensure our people have a sense of belonging and feel included and protected. To do this we believe education is key. Education to provide a better, in depth understanding around various forms of racism, as well as racial bias and the issues affecting people of colour. 

We wanted to make sure that our teams (from floor staff to senior execs and everyone in between) had the skills to proactively challenge racism and build an inclusive culture within our business.   

And so we launched our “It’s All About Race (IAAR) Roadshow” – a dedicated workshop about how to be Anti-Racist – which was held in each of our restaurants throughout January and February, and attended by 600 team members. 

Together with SISU consultancy, we produced a ‘roadmap’ with more 20 lessons in a carefully curated workbook and upskilled a core team of internal allies. From there our team of change-makers hit the road and facilitated honest conversations about privilege, bias, microaggressions, racism, non-racist behaviour and, most importantly, the concept of being an Anti-Racist. 

Finally, we took the lessons shared and collaborative learnings found and embedded them into our internal training policies. Our management teams have been given the tools needed to cascade the IAAR workshops to every single person in the company. We know this is a step in the right direction to drive real change internally at Turtle Bay. 

We’ve had really positive feedback from our team, sharing that they found the workshops extremely useful to help with their own bias and to give them the tools to be able to have conversations with each other – and guests – openly about racism. We are so proud that they are feeling a lot more confident and knowledgeable, and they appreciate the fact that we are acknowledging and facing the issue of racism in society rather than shying away from it.

We all have an opportunity to make a difference, we just need to be courageous enough to have uncomfortable conversations. This courage is contagious, and our teams at Turtle Bay have all shown their bravery and ability to create a better future – a more equitable and inclusive one for all.

Top Tips for successful Equality and Inclusion programmes in hospitality: 

  • Listen to your teams and take them on the journey with you 
  • Be vocal about what you are doing, even when it’s small
  • Use the data and learnings to drive change
  • Seek help from experts and ensure you understand and see the value of doing the work.  
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