Government review needed on racial barriers to leadership

A government review is needed into racial barriers in the workplace that is akin to the Lord Davies review into gender, and for two words – ‘and race’ – to be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code, according to Race for Opportunity.

A government review is needed into racial barriers in the workplace that is akin to the Lord Davies review into gender, and for two words – ‘and race’ – to be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code, according to Race for Opportunity.

Its report Race at the Top shows that the number of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic [BAME] people in top management positions decreased by 22% between 2007 and 2012 – from 95,023 to 73,378.

The report says many UK sectors continue to be closed off to BAME people when it comes to leadership opportunities. Nearly three-quarters of management positions held by BAME people are clustered in just three sectors: banking & finance; distribution, hotels & restaurants; and public administration, education and health. However, the majority of management positions within the energy and water, construction, legal, media and political sectors continue to be held by white people.

The report finds that it is important to consider each ethnic group in isolation, as there are stark differences in success rates and sector representation.  Between 2007 and 2012, the number of Black / Black British people in top management positions decreased by 42%. Bangladeshi, Chinese and Pakistani ethnic groups are most likely to attain management positions in the distribution, hotel and restaurant sectors (36.2%, 38% and 28.9%, respectively) which has a large volumes of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – yet are missing from management in the energy and water sector.

The report shows wide variation per region. There have been increases in BAME people in management positions in the South West and Scotland. But there have been substantial drops in management positions held by BAME people across the East Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

The ‘Other services’ sector category had the second fastest growth rate of BAME managers – a 51% increase between 2007 and 2012.  This sector includes SMEs, suggesting, says the report, that BAME people have found it preferable to start a new business than to find employment in the more traditional industries – "whether by choice or necessity".

The report finds some good news – it says the number of BAME people on the first rung of the promotion ladder in 2012 is at 10%, which is proportionate to the 10% of BAME people in employment.  And it says the number of managers from all but one ethnic group in the banking and finance sector has increased between 2007 and 2012.

The report states: "Despite some good news, it’s clear that the 2007 BAME management pipeline hasn’t reached its full potential five years on. Barriers into leadership positions for BAME people remain unbroken, and BAME leadership is disproportionately skewed towards certain sectors and against specific ethnic groups.  In fact, the situation is far worse than we predicted in our Race to the Top report back in 2007. Our political and corporate leaders must take concerted efforts in this area so that in five years’ time we can decisively say that the management gap has closed.

We called for action five years ago – we are calling for action today.  The situation needs to change drastically – now is the time to take action." 





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