UK businesses should publish a breakdown of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) employees, according to recommendations from the Chartered Management Institute and the British Academy of Management.
Their joint report comes hot on the heels of the Parker Review (November 2016) which found that BAME individuals were severely underrepresented at the top levels of industry and recommended that each FTSE 100 Board should have at least one BAME director by 2021 and The McGregor-Smith Review (February 2017) which revealed that BAME employees experienced discrimination and bias at every stage of their careers, hindering their progression.
The McGregor-Smith Review said:
Closing this representation gap is an urgent challenge – and a major opportunity, which could add £24bn to the economy annually.
The CMI and British Academy of Management report reveals that while around 12.5% of the UK population are BAME, they hold only 6% of management jobs.
The biggest business driver for diversity is improving performance, as 75% of HR/diversity leaders told the Report’s researchers. Despite that, not a single one of the diversity leaders interviewed gave their company’s current performance on BAME diversity top marks, a ‘very good’ rating.
Yet just over half (54%) of HR and diversity leads in FTSE 100 companies felt that their senior leaders championed diversity.
Currently, 21% of companies surveyed by the CMI and BAM report publicly on BAME, whilst 71% report on gender diversity. Forty-two percent suggested that the recent focus on gender pay reporting had become a barrier to progress on BAME representation.
HR leaders overwhelmingly reported that they would like to see more data on race and ethnicity to help address BAME under-representation in their organisations – 83% said they needed better data to drive progress.
Role models essential
Having senior role models also makes a difference to ethnic diversity in companies, according to the report.
One BAME senior manager told researchers:
I entered this organisation with no role models. I still don’t have any black and ethnic minority role models above me.
Another bemoaned a lack of “proportionate BAME representation from middle management upwards” and said that there was no “real effort to acknowledge this”, and one FTSE 100 diversity leader said their company’s record on BAME was “a bit shameful”.
The report advises that “next up” role models, drawn from all levels of a business, are needed to inspire confidence and ambition and show that career progression is possible. Mentoring should also be available at all levels of the business, it adds.
The CMI and BAM make a number of further recommendations on improving ethnic diversity at work, including:
- Stronger leadership on BAME diversity with senior leaders calling out any bias in the organisation;
- Articulating diversity culture when talking to clients;
Benchmarking BAME representation across competitor organisations and sharing good practice;
- Setting targets for progress and measuring and monitoring against these targets;
- Using case studies and stories to engage employees (whether BAME or not) in the benefits of a diverse workforce;
- Build on gender pay gap rules to develop a framework to address any ethnicity pay gap;
Ensuring high potential BAME employees are actively mentored; and
- Seek out training on unconscious bias and inclusive leadership.
Earlier this year, a report by Conservative peer Ruby McGregor-Smith into diversity at work suggested that GDP could increase by up to 1.3% a year if workers from BAME backgrounds progressed at the same rate as their white colleagues.
Her report also urged businesses with more than 50 employees to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band.
It has also been revealed that Pavita Cooper, who has worked in senior talent management roles in the banking industry, will chair a new body, CMI Race.
In her foreword to the CMI/BAM report, she said
Business as usual won’t cut it. The world is changing rapidly and leaders that don’t respond will struggle to attract and retain the best talent in the future.
Writing in HRZONE, Dr Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey (an expert in Employment Relations and Organisational Behaviour who has taught leadership topics at the London School of Economics Department of Management) questions how the £24bn figure was arrived at, or why just one BAME person at board-level is sufficient. However, he goes on to say
What cannot be disputed is the attempt of these reports to build a robust business case for diversity and career progression for minority professionals.
Dr Ashong-Lamptey goes on to say that a key part of developing a coherent business case for diversity for leaders to understand the “lived experiences” of those who have been marginalised or underrepresented within their organisations. This was the subject of his PhD which outlined five key principles that employers must introduce in order to implement, and better leverage employee resource groups in their organisations.
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