Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Dawn Butler, is calling on British businesses to work with her to tackle the ‘barriers’ individuals from black and ethnic minority backgrounds face in the workplace.
The Labour MP has urged companies to ‘reflect the diversity of society’ and change their culture – suggesting BAME individuals face obstacles in their careers just because of the ‘colour’ of their skin.
The newly appointed Shadow Cabinet Member’s comments came in advance of the Investing in Ethnicity and Race conference, which takes place in London on Friday. The conference follows a Government review which found that lack of BAME talent in executive positions is costing the economy £24bn a year.
Tulip Siddiq, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, is also speaking at the conference to make the call for businesses to ‘coldly analyse’ whether they do enough to employ those from a BAME background.
Ms Butler said it wasn’t just big business that needed to improve the diversity of its workforce but the ‘political elite’, adding that just 8% of MPs are BAME, compared to 14% of people in Britain’s wider society.
The Race in the Workplace study, led by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, discovered that the employment rate for people of BAME backgrounds (62.8%) is 12% lower than that of their white counterparts, with just 6% landing executive jobs.
Some 58% 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. Among FTSE 100 companies, senior day-to-day management is less ethno-culturally diverse year-on-year.
Dawn Butler MP said:
“Within the political elite a person’s colour, class or background can often be a barrier and all the evidence suggests it is very much the same for people of colour in the workplace.”
“Earlier this year, the Race in the Workplace study, led by Baroness McGregor Smith, starkly highlighted the struggle faced by people from diverse backgrounds. It showed that there is a real correlation between people not getting jobs or being overlooked for promotion simply because of their ethnicity. Women are particularly affected.”
“If British businesses truly wish to reflect the diversity of society then this seriously needs to change. We must be proud of our diversity – it allows us to view the world through different lenses and points of views. The more diverse our boardrooms, Government and positions of leadership become, the more knowledge it will bring to the table to shape a better fairer society.
“The Investing in Ethnicity and Race Conference is an important opportunity to take a look at what can be done to enhance opportunities for talented people from different backgrounds in the corporate world. As Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, I am looking forward to working with the business leaders involved to tackle the barriers that hold people back.”
Founder of the Investing in Ethnicity & Race initiative, Sarah Garrett MBE, believes boardrooms and workforces must do more to mirror the communities and neighbourhoods they are operating in.”
“Almost six out of ten FTSE 100 boards have no minority presence. 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. That’s why events such as the Investing in Ethnicity & Race initiatives are so important in helping tackle some of the problems BAME individuals face in work today.”
“We absolutely welcome the Shadow Secretary of State’s comments and our message to businesses up and down the country is this: take a no-nonsense approach to employing more BAME individuals and help smash the glass ceiling once and for all.”