We sat down with the Deputy Chair of the Ethnic Diversity Network, Marlon Wilson, to find out about the work he is doing with younger people through the Reach Society.

Hi Marlon, can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your role in BT?

I'm a Transformation Specialist within the Networks unit, Service Platforms, where we own the end to end delivery and operations of market-leading premium products and services.

We support over 30 million mobile customers, 5.5 million sport customers, nearly 2 million TV customers, over 10 million voice and broadband customers, and 95 per cent of the UK broadcast content goes over our Media Network.

Something people generally don't know is, we also manage critical national infrastructure for the BBC, Freeview, emergency services and the 999 service. It's just a great place to be.

What does a Transformation Specialist mean?

A Transformation Specialist brings to being the actual experiences for BT’s vision of our future. Our work has a bearing on people, devices, and machines, internal and external to businesses. As we adjust beliefs and processes, actions become the new norm supported by technology-enablers and thereby achieving the desired result.

What does your day-to-day role look like?

I am involved in several rewarding activities and I can’t say that any two days are the same.

I lead on Service Platforms automation approach. I directly influence people’s beliefs, so their actions become naturally aligned to BT’s purpose and vision. Leading with purpose and always remembering the ‘why’, I elevate and challenge thinking so we are not fixated on technology for technology's sake and that our time and energy is spent on making use of technological advancements to activate data-driven decisions and improvements by way of business insights​.

With my Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) hat on I leverage data insights to create equal outcomes for ALL through equitable process designs. An example of this is where I influenced the business to disaggregate the BAME acronym on our Ethnic Pay Gap report to observe the different experiences and findings based on the respective ethnicities.

My day is also filled with many opportunities to create purposeful environments where our people feel comfortable being uncomfortable. Educating others and helping us to imagine walking in someone else’s shoes and question just for a moment, how should we approach our ambition of a representative workforce. To achieve a place where everyone; belongs, able to be their best self, has access to opportunities and is empowered through social advocacy. Ultimately asking ourselves, what if anything, would we do differently than we are doing now?

Working in technology and being the deputy chair of the EDN, how do you balance your workload between the two roles?

There is more to me than my two roles. I am also a Senior HR Manager leading on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy for Technology and Corporate units. I am the Technology (Networks) D&I Guild lead, serve as a member on the Technology Steering Committee for Service Platforms, I am a giant internal and external to BT and above all, I am a very blessed husband and a father of three amazing children.

So, to answer the question there are 24 hours in a day and sometimes we must remember the purpose behind why we do what we do.

I am committed to play my part for society and that’s why I always ask myself, if I’m not prepared to do it then who will be. Therefore, I strive to ensure that in years to come our future talent are not having the same DEI challenges and conversations we are having today. 

What is the role of technology in creating a more diverse and inclusive environment?

My role is to be a great leader and to create an environment where everyone feels they belong, have attainable access to opportunities and to be their true self along the way. Winning over hearts and minds, I am changing perspectives on how we interact with each other and how we define who is the right person for the job. All while working towards the vision of equality through equitable designs supported by data and insights.

What is the Reach Society and how have you as an employee at BT been involved with them?

Reach Society is the 2017 winner of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (the MBE for volunteer groups).  The Society was founded in October 2010, with the core purpose of encouraging, motivating, and inspiring young people to own the development of their potential and make viable transitions into adult life.

The society's motto is 'building connections' which captures the spirit of the work we do with the support of large cohorts of Black professional role models and scores of employers to engage and inspire young people, especially black boys and young men via the Annual Careers Conferences, a set of Employability Days in the regions outside of London i.e. Birmingham, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Luton and others.

I sit on the Reach Society management team as the successor to the Chair, Dwain Neil, OBE, and I'm also the Deputy Director for the Foundation for Reach Society, the sister arm of reach. Leading with our purpose I bring to life our motto, to build connections so that our boys and young men will discover and learn what is required to succeed in adult life.

What inspired the alliance with the Reach Society?

I met one of the founders of Reach Society at a race focussed D&I Leaders event and subsequently, I was asked to represent the Society as a role model (volunteer) at an inner-city school breakfast club, which I gladly accepted. As time went on I was able to see first-hand the positive engagement and impact the society had within the modern black community.

As a result, I presented the opportunity to the Service Platforms leadership team, to work with the society as this allowed us to directly encourage, motivate and inspire the younger generation, get better representation within BT, and also help promote a positive external view of BT as a company. This is how Service Platforms (SP) became proud sponsors of Reach Society's Smart Health Project (SHP). Over the next three years, the project will bring health and wellbeing messages to the black community, via careers conferences, employability days and employability groups. I'm glad I was able to build a connection and for BT to commit to such an amazing community activity.

Since working with the society, what have you learnt and what has been your biggest takeaway?

I've learned to hold fast to faith. For if we have hope, then with patience we wait for the things we want to see.

I believe now is a great time to be here, at BT and I'm proud to be working with the society, who play such an important role in building communities to supporting young people from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

My biggest takeaway is we are stronger together. If we proactive in our approach to learning about our wider community, we'll understand how to build better relationships and equitable practices that empower individuals and communities, equipping them with specific tools needed to enable them to support themselves and thrive.

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