A report on race and diversity in corporate Britain covering 2.75 million UK employees in 99 private and public sector organisations (including 18 of the FTSE 100) has revealed a noticeable lack of black and Asian managers, particularly at the most senior level. “Race: Creating Business Value” draws on a comprehensive survey of members of Race for Opportunity (RfO), the business network of UK organisations working on race and diversity as a business agenda.
The survey shows that despite the fact the organisations surveyed employ almost three million people, only 44 ethnic minority individuals currently hold posts at the most senior level, with no black or other ethnic minority chief executives in any of the private sector organisations. Nor are there any black or Asian Permanent Secretaries in any of the central government departments surveyed. Only 3.4% of senior managers are from ethnic minorities, whilst the overall number at managerial level is 4.1 per cent (11,862 people).
Nevertheless, the research shows that significant investment is being made across the board in developing and retaining ethnic minority employees and customers as Britain’s major employers increasingly tackle race equality in the workplace, although much remains to be done.
The financial institutions surveyed employ approximately 1.5 million people, but only 1.6 % (23,393 people) are ethnic minorities. The biggest employers of ethnic minority people are the retail sector, where they make up 8.4% of the current workforce, or 46,590 people. Unsurprisingly, the majority of ethnic minority employees are in non-management positions, comprising 8.9% of the 1.2million non-managerial staff in the organisations surveyed.
There has been progress on a number of fronts, compared with the results of a 2001 survey. Organisations reported on activity in terms of business leadership on race, marketing to ethnic minorities as profitable consumers, diversity-proofing community involvement programmes, and evaluating policies and initiatives. In addition, there has been a significant leap in the number of organisations providing data on the ethnicity of their workforces – 78%, up from 19% of the organisations surveyed in 2001 – reflecting the fact that monitoring is increasingly standard good practice.
There has also been growth in terms of real commitment and tangible engagement with the issue areas across organisations. Leadership remains of critical importance (86 per cent of respondents have a Board level ‘champion’), although the survey highlights the need to ensure effective programmes across the spectrum of each organisation’s activity since much activity on race is still largely driven by human resources and equal opportunities departments.