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Race under wraps

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British businesses must break their “silence” on the under-representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in key roles, according to new research commissioned by the British Academy of Management (BAM) and the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and co-authored by researchers at the University of St Andrews.

Sponsored by the CMI and BAM, Delivering Diversity outlines the everyday challenges facing BAME managers, how BAME issues are represented and managed by FTSE companies, and the recommendations the research team identified as the main policy changes to be made by companies and government. The report highlights practical steps that companies can take immediately and in the medium term to develop truly adaptive cultures, fit for purpose in times of political, economic and social challenge.

Just six per cent of management jobs in the UK are held by minorities. Despite this, Delivering Diversity finds that only 54 per cent of FTSE100 leaders are seen to be actively championing greater diversity in their companies, with just 21 per cent revealing their current diversity levels through published progression targets and data.

Delivering Diversity highlights that many companies lack clear information about the diversity of their management pipeline. Eighty-three per cent of the HR leaders surveyed admitted that they need better data on BAME diversity to drive improvements.

The report finds that businesses need to apply the lessons from recent progress on gender diversity, including setting targets and publishing progression data. Seventy-five per cent of the FTSE100 companies surveyed now set progression targets for gender and 71 per cent publish related data. While only 21 per cent do so on BAME, almost half (47 per cent) of the rest say they expect to set targets over the coming year.

Dr Lisi Gordon, co-author and researcher at the University of St Andrews, said: “Delivering Diversity 2017 gives unique insights into what it is like to be Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and working in some of the UK’s top performing companies. Only 15 per cent of companies were identified as leading examples, demonstrating innovative practices in relation to developing BAME management pipelines. The case studies from within and outside the FTSE100 showcase practical examples if successful initiatives being used to develop and promote BAME inclusion and diversity. Our report calls for immediate action and gives clear guidance for companies who wish to improve and develop their BAME management pipelines whether starting, progressing or leading in their practices.”

Dr Gurchathen Sanghera, co-author and researcher at the University of St Andrews, said: “This is an important and timely report that examines the race and diversity practices of some of the leading companies in the UK. It identifies some of the key challenges that undermine the goal of achieving greater diversity in leadership for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities. Utilising different methodologies, the report illustrates how and why companies should be working to create more inclusive environments. A lot more can be done; a lot more needs to be done. It requires leadership at ‘the top’ to bring about meaningful and sustainable change that is inclusive of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities.”

The project team included expert researchers from Cardiff University (Professor Emmanuel Ogbanna), Queen Mary University of London (Professor Nelarine Cornelius and Professor Geraldine Healy), University of Bradford (Uduak Archibong), University of Dundee (Professor Nic Beech), and University of St Andrews (Dr Lisi Gordon and Dr Gurchathen Sanghera).

As a key outcome of the research, CMI and BAM are calling for action from businesses on seven key areas:

  1. Break the silence: leaders need to re-boot the conversation on race, show commitment and communicate a clear business case for change to deliver diversity.
  2. Learn from the gender agenda: business has shown that it can generate momentum to make change happen, with inclusive leadership at all levels and transparency about strategies, targets and progress.
  3. Face the numbers – measure it, manage it, report it: companies need to measure BAME diversity at every level of the management pipeline.
  4. Tap into the power of sponsorship: senior leaders need to actively seek out and meet diverse emerging leaders to sponsor them and support their development.
  5. Build diversity through ‘next up’ leadership: role models and mentors at the next level up – not just remote role models at the top of business – can be powerful forces for change; use innovative models like mentoring circles and reverse mentoring.
  6. Be inclusive and adaptive: build adaptive cultures that respond to the differences people bring to work; make it clear that the company values difference so no minority employee is left questioning whether they fit in.
  7. Benchmark and collaborate: businesses should compare performance with others in their sector and collaborate on ways to accelerate change.

The Delivering Diversity report, which includes case studies from leading companies like Aviva, Google, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Sainsbury’s, Schroders and Virgin Money, is available online.


About the research 

Delivering Diversity incorporates many strands of research carried out by CMI and researchers at several universities through the British Academy of Management (BAM). It included:

  • analysis of the ‘public face’ of all FTSE100 companies through a web-based evaluation of their diversity policies and practices
  • an online survey of FTSE100 HR and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) leads on current diversity practice regarding BAME representation, conducted between March and June 2017 among 24 leaders, plus roundtable discussion with 13 companies
  • 26 lived experience interviews with pairs of BAME and non-BAME managers at similar positions in the same organisations, exploring experiences of working life in FTSE100 companies
  • in-depth employer case studies with leading companies including Aviva, Google, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Sainsbury’s, Schroders and Virgin Money.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office. Contact Christine Tudhope on 01334 467 320 / 07526 624 243 or christine.tudhope@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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