Sandra Kerr

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Sandra Kerr is the National Director of the Race for Opportunity (RfO) campaign, a national business-led network of private and public sector organisations. RfO cover the whole of the UK, promoting the business case for race and diversity to encourage business to invest in diversity by creating new opportunities for ethnic minorities in areas of employment, marketing, purchasing and community involvement.  

RfO, launched 10 years ago is the quality benchmark of Business in the Community (BITC), a UK company of over 800 member organisations. Members of RfO are committed to promoting racial equality within their businesses and are driven by the business case for race. RfO challenges organisations to underpin strategies with concrete actions, thus guaranteeing a positive impact on business performance. Members of RfO include the UK Investment Banks, leading High Street banks, the Army, building societies and leading insurers. Law firms who are RfO members are Baker & McKenzie, Linklaters and Wragge & Co.

Before joining RfO, Sandra worked in the Cabinet Office advising Cabinet Ministers on diversity and policies on race, disability, gender, and work life balance across Whitehall.  Prior to this she worked for the Department of Work and Pensions delivering frontline services to 33,000 customers whilst managing a team of 140 staff over a 5 year period.  She also spent 4 years as a personal development trainer and IT skills trainer.

In her spare time, Sandra manages to work as a part-time consultant team adviser for the Work Foundation’s Premiere Leadership Programmes which is for senior leaders working in the public and private sector. 

We asked Sandra’s views on various issues and below was her response:

BLD: What are the greatest issues/challenges on diversity that needs to be tackled now?

SK: A need for wider business engagement across all four strands of the RfO campaign i.e. employment, including the recruitment, selection, progression and retention of Black and minority ethnic employees; marketing to ethnic minorities as profitable consumers; engaging ethnic minority businesses in their supplier chain and as business partners; and diversity-proofing community involvement activities and initiatives to ensure inclusion of ethnic minority individuals and communities.

BLD: Who is the person you most admire and why (dead or alive)?

SK: Without hesitation, it has to be Nelson Mandela. I not only admire him for his tremendous strength and courage in the face of adversity and his ability to reconcile a nation, but also as someone who has inspired me through his lifelong dedication to fight against racial oppression in South Africa and fight for racial equality in the rest of the world.

BLD: If you could rule the world for a day what would you change/do?

SK: Cancel out the third world debt and reinforce fair-trade as the only way to do business. In the UK I will look at raising the educational attainment levels of young minority ethnic boys as one way out of the poverty level and to help them on the way to economic empowerment.

BLD: What are you most passionate/happiest about?

SK: I am very passionate about raising the profile of senior black and minority ethnic roles models in the UK as a way of inspiring and encouraging the younger black and minority ethnic population.