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.

The Importance of BAME’s in leadership roles

Leadership and culture play a key role in creating obstacles whilst also providing the solutions that enable BME individuals’ success.

Leaders set the tone from the top to ensure employees feel included in their teams.

Organisational cultures are often defined by the behaviours that leaders allow, the behaviours that are encouraged, and the behaviours that are forbidden. Only 66% of black employees said that they feel included in their teams compared to 70% of white employees Race at Work Survey 2018

Variations in ideas, thoughts, personalities and styles on a company’s board of directors can also lead to a better work culture.

Baroness McGregor-Smith, who was commissioned to investigate workplace diversity, says Britain could see GDP rise by as much as £24bn if black and minority ethnic employees are helped to progress through their companies at the same rate as their white counterparts.

BAME groups remain underrepresented in management positions due to a lack of opportunities, discrimination and the absence of role models. Lack of diversity in the workplace and in leadership roles impact significantly on an organizations ability to innovate, provide services that are accessible to the communities or customer base  and be an inclusive organisation that is able to attract the required talent to successfully meet its goals.

Research shows that many budding employees from a BAME background do not have access to the contacts, networks or prospects required to successfully climb the career ladder.

According to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), “BAME employees are significantly more likely to say that your identity or background can influence the opportunities you are given than white employees”.

Significantly more BAME employees said career progression is an important part of their working life than those from a white British background (25% vs 10%). However, BAME employees are more likely than white British to say their career progression to date has failed to meet their expectations.

Furthermore, BAME employees are significantly more likely to say your identity or background can have an effect on the opportunities you’re given than white British employees, particularly those from an Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi background.

One in five BAME employees (20%) said that discrimination had played a part in a lack of career progression to date, compared with just 11% white British employees

A significant lack of BAME role models in high ranked management positions is another factor in limiting the advances of BAME employees. According to the CIPD, “Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees said a lack of role models and ‘people like me’ is a progression barrier”.

Building an inclusive business comes from the top – this agenda needs broad executive support, which needs to filter down through organisations. We have also found that mentoring and sponsorship have consistently delivered results and it is incumbent upon all management to play their part in supporting people from all backgrounds.

Language is something that was consistently raised throughout this review as being hugely difficult. Most people today still find it really hard to talk about race and ethnicity, particularly in the workplace. Business leaders need to create inclusive cultures that enable employees to bring their whole selves to work and encourage people to talk openly.

“It seems that Britain is finally ready to have a real, long-overdue conversation about

structural racism. But we must not be complacent: actions, not words, are what will

make a difference in our schools, courts of justice or our places of work. To make a real change, we need leaders of integrity, allies willing to show their support and sponsors in our businesses who can challenge the status quo. We need the job of those in power to be breaking down barriers for those who come next.”  Right Hon MP David Lammy, Shadow Secretary for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor 2020.

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

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