Positive Action: You Can’t Have Honey Without Bees – Learning to Accept the Stings

The British Transport Police has traditionally been considered an unattractive career path, often perceived as dangerous, physically demanding, unattractive and unwelcoming, with an experiential progression and promotion path. Barry Boffy has set out to challenge these perceptions and implement Positive Action to attract underrepresented individuals to better address the wider community they serve:


  • BTP built a part-time Positive Action team to deliver non-recruitment related activities, such as proactive school visits and working with specialist career fairs to build their reputation as a diverse and inclusive employer.
  • The team also ran regular pre-application workshops exclusive to underrepresented candidates around the country.
  • They introduced anonymised applications and unconscious bias training for all assessors.
  • Some of the team’s key achievements so far include: 

- consistent advertising with clear explicit messaging to encourage applications from all underrepresented groups,

- visual representation to showcase a diverse workforce, 

- a clear understanding of where underrepresentation takes places (by geography and protected group), 

- individual case-by-case failure review.

  • Initiatives that didn’t work include ads in specialist publications and generalist recruitment fairs.
  • Expect backlash, Barry advises. “Respond to comments, complaints and concerns by explaining Positive Action in a consistent, but simple way. Show evidence of why it’s necessary and stand your ground!”


Get your evidence for using Positive Action – don’t just apply it to all groups because you assume there is underrepresentation. Be specific with who you are targeting, take legal advice and be clear on what you’re hoping to achieve. Make sure the company is inclusive first before applying Positive Action!

View Barry Boffy's presentation


Barry Boffy, Head of Inclusion and Diversity, British Transport Police

"Positive Action: You Can’t Have Honey Without Bees – Learning to Accept the Stings"