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Focus on leadership

We are focussing on leadership and its vital role in creating diverse and inclusive organisations.

We will examine how societal and structural racism continues to impact on BAME employee progression. We will also focus on the business case for inclusion and focus on the role of leadership in breaking down the barriers that currently exist.

The resources are designed to provide an insight into the issues that BAME employees face but will also provide some tangible solutions that can be readily employed to overcome them.

Barriers to BAME career progression

Despite the introduction of Race Equality legislation over the decades, racism and discrimination continues to affect society and its major institutions. It finds its way into business boards, recruitment processes (whether through overt or unconscious bias) and employment and work place practices.

A study into 'alarming' bias against minority ethnic candidates found that job seekers from minority ethnic groups had to send an average of 60% more applications to receive the same level of interest as those from majority groups.

The recently government commissioned McGregor Smith Review 2017 found that:

There is discrimination and bias at every stage of an individual’s career, and even before it begins, from networks to recruitment and then in the workforce, it is there. BME people are faced with a distinct lack of role models, they are more likely to perceive the workplace as hostile, they are less likely to apply for and be given promotions and they are more likely to be disciplined or judged harshly.

Two thirds of BME individuals who responded to the call for evidence reported that they had experienced racial harassment or bullying in the workplace in the last five years.

BME individuals in the UK are both less likely to participate in and then less likely to progress through the workplace, when compared with White individuals. Barriers exist, from entry through to board level that prevents these individuals from reaching their full potential. This is not only unjust for them, but the ‘lost’ productivity and potential represents a huge missed opportunity for businesses and impacts the economy as a whole.

Over the past 40 years, the makeup of the labour market in the UK has changed dramatically. The proportion of the working age population that come from a BME background is increasing. In 2016, 14% of the working age population are from a BME background. This is increasing, with the proportion expected to rise to 21% by 2051. However, this is not reflected in the majority of workplaces, with many ethnic minorities concentrated in lower paying jobs.

A 2015 study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation identified that a higher proportion of BME individuals tended to work in lower paying occupations such as catering, hairdressing or textiles. BME individuals also struggle to achieve the same progression opportunities as their White counterparts. One in eight of the working age population are from a BME background, yet only one in ten are in the workplace and only one in 16 top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person.

‘The potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BME individuals across the labour market through improved participation and progression is estimated to be 24 billion a year which represents 1.3% of GDP.’ The McGregor-Smith Review Race in the Workplace 2017 report.

Page updated: 24/09/2021 Page updated by: Gloucestershire County Council

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