Good progress is being made on improving ethnic diversity in the workplace but more needs to be done. That is the conclusion of three reports in recent weeks which highlight the progress, and the lack of it, across the UK. We have a suggestion for how to make improvements in your business – more on that shortly.
The TUC’s report reveals how black, minority and ethnic women are twice as likely to be on zero-hours contracts as white men. It finds that overall, BME workers are significantly overrepresented on zero-hours contracts compared to white workers which the TUC describes and ‘structural racism in action’. General Secretary Frances O’Grady is calling for the government to publish its long overdue employment bill, and ban what she says are ‘exploitative practices’ like zero-hours contracts. She also wants a new duty on employers to measure and report on their ethnicity pay gap.
The second report is the Parker Committee’s latest publication, the results of its most recent voluntary census on the ethnic diversity of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies' boards. It shows good progress - 89 FTSE 100 companies had minority ethnic representation on their company boards as of 31 December 2021, which was the target date. Another 5 FTSE 100 appointments have been announced since then and an additional 3 companies are at an advanced stage in the recruitment process. However, the Committee says, there is slow progress when it comes to ethnic representation in key executive director positions.
At roughly the same time those two reports came out, the government published its ‘Inclusive Britain’ strategy’ to tackle racial and ethnic disparities in the UK. It builds on the Levelling Up White Paper, the government’s plan for spreading opportunity more equally across the country. It was developed in response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ independent report which made 24 recommendations to tackle ethnic disparities. Inclusive Britain strategy sets out 70 actions to tackle racial disparities, boost opportunity and promote fairness.
So, in summary, a lot of good progress has been made and one of the chief reasons for that is businesses have come to realise the strong business case for diversity. That is well documented with a mountain of evidence pointing that way. So what help are we giving clients to help them meet these targets? Shuabe Shabudin has been helping a number of clients in this area and he joined me by video-link to discuss it, including a new diversity tool currently in development designed to help clients make progress:
Shuabe Shabudin: “Yes, so we're seeing an increasing number of clients come to us to help them with that. Often its clients that we've worked with on their gender pay gap reporting, or their ethnicity pay gap reporting, and where those reports have come out with recommendations in relation to greater diversity and greater ethnicity and racial representation. So what we do is we use that information, the information has been collated as part of those reports, and often we'll also supplement that with one-to-ones with key stakeholders, or focus groups, and once we've got all of that good information we can feed that into what we've got as our benchmarking tool. It’s a wizzy piece of kit that, essentially, allows us to put all of the information in, understand where the company is now, work out what interventions there can be to get to the targets, or aspirations, they might have and then almost to chart and forecast what will happen if they undertake some or all of those interventions and we can look at that over different periods of time. So, it can be a two year outlook, a three year outlook, or a five year outlook. What that allows the company to do is to see what they need to do, most importantly, but equally as importantly, when and how, and how quickly, they need to be doing that in order to get to where they want to be. So, it's something that we're really seeing an increasing trend in and I think there's going to be more and more clients that are looking to do that because, as I say, there is now this spotlight being shone, there is a really good wave of positive action being undertaken. So, I think together we can really use the information, get more good information and data to chart correctly and accurately how we can get to the outcomes that we want.”
Joe Glavina: “As I understand it, the product will work in a way that is tailored to the particular client. Is that right?”
Shuabe Shabudin: “Yes, I think what's really good about the tool is that it's bespoke. So, obviously the background workings, the back office, is what it is, but it's bespoke in the sense that it doesn't push out one-size-fits-all solutions. The information is the organization's information, the key stakeholders are the key stakeholders of the company, so what we are able to give is, almost, I don't want to say fool proof, you know, it's tailored outcomes, it's tailored solutions, and it is specific to the organisation, the industry, the size of the organisation, all of those things. So look, if we're digging, we want to be digging in the right place. You know, if you're putting time and effort in, you, as a client, want to know that you're going to get the return on your investment. So we are much more confident that we're able to do that, given that the tool is so bespoke.”
Joe Glavina: “So what’s your message to HR watching this programme?”
Shuabe Shabudin: “I think it's to highlight to those that are in the key positions, those that are the decision makers or those that are creating the diversity and inclusion strategies, the values for the company, whatever it might be, that there is this tool available, that they don't need to go to something that's off the shelf, they can get this bespoke, tailored, advice and support and for us to work with them on how to get that data. We could do a whole session on how to collate the data in relation to equal opportunities and things but, you know, it's about knowing that they have that role and they can also, really helpfully, be the conduit between us and the individuals that are going to be making the decisions on how a company moves over the coming years.”
Finally on the subject of diversity and the FTSE 100, the other report published recently which is worth mentioning is FTSE Women Leaders Review. That report shows women now hold nearly 40% of FTSE 100 leadership roles compared with 12.5% a decade ago although, again, there is still a long way still to go because the vast majority of those are white women. Back in March Kate Dodd talked to this programme about that report and how employers can improve representation in their own businesses. That is ‘Rise in FTSE women leaders but ‘shocking’ lack of diversity’ and is available for viewing now from the Outlaw website.