UK Business leaders pledge to boost diversity in the workplace

The UK’s Britain’s biggest businesses have pledged to do more to diversify workplaces in a move which will improve career opportunities for people of Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The Investing in Ethnicity conference, which took place at the Bank of England in London today, saw MPs and business leaders from companies including HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Lloyds banking group meet to address recent reports which reveal significant pay gaps between BAME and white workers, barriers to career progression for BAME employees as well as a lack of recruitment opportunities.

The Race in the Workplace study, led by Baroness McGregor-Smith, discovered that the employment rate for people of BAME backgrounds at 62.8 per cent is 12 per cent lower than that of their white counterparts, with just six per cent landing executive jobs.

It also revealed that some 58 per cent of FTSE 100 boards have no minority presence, with white women 20 times more likely be a Chair, CEO or CFO than an ethnic minority woman.

The conference was led by British diversity expert Sarah Garrett MBE and Labour MP Dawn Butler. It was opened by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

Founder of the initiative, Sarah Garrett MBE, says boardrooms and workforces need to reflect the diversity of British society.

She said: ‘All the evidence shows us is that diversity is so often a rarity at the top table. Almost six out of ten FTSE 100 boards have no minority presence and it is even worse at a senior level for BAME women. BAME graduates are less likely to become employed than their white counterparts and some 60% of black employees feel their career development has failed to meet their expectations. We welcome renewed commitment from some of Britain’s biggest organisations to addressing this inequality. The Investing in Ethnicity conference is just one part of a wider initiate to make positive change.’

Fiona Cannon OBE, Group Director, Responsible Business, Sustainability & Inclusion, Lloyds Banking Group, who last year won Outstanding Employer of the Year at the Ethnicity Awards, said:

‘Becoming the Investing in Ethnicity’s Employer of the Year supports Lloyds Banking Group’s purpose of Helping Britain Prosper, a commitment that runs through the heart of everything we do to support the people, businesses and communities we serve. In 2018 we were the first FTSE 100 organisation to announce targets to increase the representation of BAME colleagues overall and for senior manager roles.

In addition, we launched our second Ethnicity in Advertising report, looking at the how accurately BAME people are reflected in advertising. It provides valuable insight into how advertisers could do more to authentically portray people from different ethnic groups.’

Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler said: ‘Initiatives like Investing in Ethnicity are incredibly important. I hope the conference has encouraged business to do more to level the playing field for BAME employees.’

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