The King has spoken in support of an organisation dedicated to responsible business and workplace racial equality – as he cut a slice of cake to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Charles wished Business in the Community (BITC) a “happy 40th birthday” and joked its members need to “keep it going for God’s sake”, as he spoke at the organisation’s annual meeting at Central Hall Westminster on Wednesday afternoon.
As Prince of Wales, Charles was the royal founding patron of BITC, which formed in 1982 and launched a campaign for racial workplace equality in 1995.
Addressing an audience of 350 BITC members, Charles said: “I think we are only as good as the marvellous people we help, that’s the point.”
He added: “So none of this would have been possible without the remarkable characters, not only in the BITC staff and headquarters, but obviously all these marvellous businesspeople who got involved after being dragged initially – sometimes unwillingly – to see different parts of the country.
“The wonderful thing is it’s been kept going by all of you and I hope it will continue because there’s lots and lots of things that need doing.”
The organisation’s Seeing Is Believing programme has taken 25,000 business leaders around the country to see the challenges faced by people in different areas.
As part of its anniversary year, BITC took 60 business leaders into cities including Bradford, Norwich and Coventry to meet organisations helping to support people, such as the Shoebox Community Hub in Norwich.
Charles, dressed in a black coat and navy blue suit, was greeted by Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, as he arrived at the hall.
He then met representatives of BITC, including Sandra Kerr CBE, the organisation’s race equality director, and fellows who have supported the group’s work over the years.
Ms Kerr said: “For me, the big thing is that in 1995 (Charles) was convening conversations about race with businesses.”
She said the King has offered “constant support” to the group over the decades.
BITC, which works and campaigns with more than 600 businesses, describes itself as the “largest and longest-established membership organisation dedicated to responsible business”.
Its Race At Work Charter has been signed by almost 1,000 organisations representing more than six million employees.