Our UK Chair, Sinead Lynch, hosted a ‘Let’s Talk About Race: A Time for Solidarity’ panel discussion in June 2020 on why the topic of race and ethnicity should matter to everyone at Shell in the UK, what we are doing to address racial inequality at work, and how we can all play our part to be more inclusive. The panel featured senior leaders and two members of our ethnic minority employee networks, sharing our progress to-date on ethnicity representation and inclusion. This includes our participation in external ethnic minority cross-organisation mentoring circles developed by Shell UK in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC), being a founding signatory of the Race at Work Charter and our continued efforts to increase ethnicity declaration. Whilst we are proud of this progress, we recognise that collectively, we simply have not done enough.

During the panel, Sinead Lynch, UK Chair, shared a 10-point Action Plan co-created with our Employee Networks and endorsed by the UK Country Coordination Team. The plan aims to build a more balanced and inclusive organisation that addresses the inequalities voiced by our employees from ethnic minority backgrounds. Our plans have included:
  • Recommunicating a number of resources to all UK employees to help further raise awareness and understanding. These resources have included D&I team talks on race and ethnicity, an Allyship Guide providing tips on how to be an ally and drive a conversation, bystander intervention techniques aimed at empowering employees to intervene, the channels and processes to report behaviours and the support available. 
  • Each member of the UK Country Coordination Team commencing reciprocal mentoring with one talented Black employee to enable our leaders to better understand the experiences of Black colleagues and reflect on what they can do to be more inclusive. 
  • Introducing recruitment aspirations of 8% representation of Black people in our graduate and experienced hires by 2025 to tap into a broader talent pool and increase representation in line with society.
  • Continuing to celebrate and raise visibility of leadership role models from ethnic minority backgrounds by launching a series of ‘Fireside Chats’ hosted by senior minority ethnic leaders for ethnic minority employees on topics such as having a stronger seat at the table and building impact and visibility. 
  • Each member of the UK Country Coordination Team sponsoring at least one place for our employees of ethnic minority background to participate in a development programme to support progression, with 50% of this pool being Black. 
  • In July 2020, the UK Country Coordination Team participated in a listening conversation, where Black employees were invited to share their lived experiences, reflections on themes such as inclusion and diversity, psychological safety, development and progression of Black employees, and provide feedback to the UK Country Coordination Team on where we can and need to do better. The insights gained from this conversation are both eye-opening and humbling and reinforce the importance of creating a culture of psychological safety for individuals and teams.

These commitments hold not only our leaders, but also our employees to account. They reinforce the tone from our CEO, Ben van Beurden, who shared two messages internally on his stance to racial equality in the workplace, namely that any form of racism at Shell will not be tolerated and that we all have a responsibility to be anti-racist. By letting our most vulnerable colleagues know that we have their back against injustice, we support all employees to thrive and bring their full and best selves to work. It was also highlighted that more will be done to ensure that all of our employees are aware of the correct behaviours through introducing regular mandatory training on inclusivity and anti-harassment, as well as a review of our key processes in hiring, assessment, development and promotion.

Throughout 2021, Shell in the UK have continued their commitments to racial equality and inclusion. Our plans have included:

  • During Black History Month in October, our ethnic minority Networks organised a series of events to celebrate Black culture and demonstrate how the topic of race and ethnicity should matter to everyone at Shell in the UK.
  • David Bunch, newly appointed UK Country Chair held a panel session with BBC’s June Sarpong – Director of Creative Diversity to discuss the topic of Allyship and how to be a diversity advocate in the workplace.
  • Participated in an external panel event, connecting business leaders from IBM, Thompson Reuters and Adobe to discuss the progress on inclusion and race at work.
  • Held a session with expert Dr Praava Agarwal on ‘How to talk to children about race’ to help all employees from all backgrounds feel equipped to discuss race and discrimination with the children in their lives.
  • Continued our ‘Hidden Figures’ series, where we raise awareness and celebrate the historic achievements of black individuals from history.
  • Developing an Allyship Guide, which expands on the existing information in the Allyship toolkit to enable employees’ practical steps to be an effective ally to colleagues.
  • Developed a line manager guide on Building Inclusion in Teams which seeks to be an easy access toolkit to combine many of the tools and resources available on the D&I toolkit.
Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair

This isn’t a topic where we always have the right words but what I have learnt is that through our discomfort, and even our defensiveness, those of us who do not experience discrimination regularly end up protecting the status quo. That needs to change, and that change starts with open and sometimes difficult conversations.

Sinead Lynch, UK Country Chair (2016 –2021)


St. Fergus Gas Plant – Leading the way on breaking down barriers

Shell in the UK has been helping to break down the gender gap and associated barriers by promoting careers within the energy industry and initiatives such as “Girls in Energy” which was launched in 2010 in partnership with the North East Scotland College.

Bringing balance to the Upstream Leadership team

In the UK sector of the North Sea, Shell produces approximately 10% of UK oil and gas. Shell produces oil and gas from more than 50 interests in North Sea Fields, 30 North Sea platforms and 2 FPSO’s – one operated and one operated on our behalf.

Case studies

These describe the specific and differing challenges in some of our business areas, and the actions being taken to improve representation and build a more balanced and inclusive workplace at Shell in the UK.