Advocates of diversity have called for businesses to feel uncomfortable together talking about race, in order to curb racism at work.
Sandra Kerr, director of competition in Community Business, made the remarks during a CIPD conference in late March aimed at tackling the problem.
She joined Charendeep Singh, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, with Abdul Wahab, Adviser on Diversity and Inclusion at the CIPD, chairing the discussion.
It came a year later after the assassination of George Floyd, which led to Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests across the US and UK last summer.
The Committee on Race and Ethnic Inequality was set up by the UK Government shortly after the protests, with the final report published last week.
She was sharply criticized after discovering that the UK system “was not deliberately manipulated against ethnic minorities.
The report stated that around 40% of the UK’s ethnic minority population live in London – compared to only 9% of the UK population – and this mitigates the countries’ significant challenges to regional equality.
A survey by Youth Employment UK earlier this year found that a third of Black respondents had never discussed the practice of learning with them, compared to 13% of white respondents.
He cited executive recruitment agency Green Parks Color of Power project, which found that 52 of the 1,099 most powerful jobs were held by ethnic minority individuals – just 4.7%.
She concluded that Britains leadership positions had failed to improve between 2017 and 2020, with only 15 additional roles held by ethnic minorities since 2017.
A study conducted by Nasar Meer at the University of Edinburgh in 2019 found that one-third of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) people in Scotland reported having experienced racial discrimination.
The employment rate for BAME groups in Scotland is 15% lower than that of the white population and significantly worse for BAME women, which the employment rate is 20% lower than for white women.
During the panel discussion, Singh stressed the lack of diverse representation of ethnic minorities, stating that there is still “a long way to go in Scotland” and the UK as a whole.
I think that from an upper management trajectory we should see much more progress in ensuring that we have different leaders in all sectors of organizations including the public sector, the third sector and the private sector.
“We have to be a little more urgent, we have to pick up the pace and I think we have to be serious about the tools that drive some of those changes – be they targeted quotas or other measures.
Kerr suggested that at the top of the goals, companies should be data-driven and rely on employee surveys and recruitment figures, as well as make employees feel comfortable when talking about competition in the workplace.
Smaller businesses should include a two-way or reverse guidance, which is when stakeholders from the other background are also mandated to tell the truth about what is happening in the organization and their lived experiences and part of “she’m enjoying talking about the race,” she said.
“I know from our job race survey, which we ran a few times, that people just don’t feel comfortable talking about the race – but, we just have to get over it and be uncomfortable together, because we have to be able to discuss the inequalities that exist.
Kerr said her research suggested that one in four people of BAME descent said they had experienced bullying and harassment by their manager in the past two years.
This element of being simply transparent, with the manager plus a consulting group of people across the organization, helps to ensure accountability, “she said.” The power of the advisory board not only helps the leader deliver evidence-based messages, but also keeps the organization discussing it at the upper table.
Many companies have reflected their policy in light of recent anti-racism protests to help make their workplace more inclusive and diverse.
PwC UK introduced new measures and a targeted system to help achieve its goals, which include holding management accountable if not achieved.
For fiscal year 2020, the overall average wage gap of the professional services firm, including partners, decreased from 6.3% in 2019 to 3.5% in 2020.
New data shows the firm still has a lot of work to do, but is slowly resolving the issue and keeping it on top. The average wage gap of PwC UK is 8.3%, the average wage gap of Asia is 2.7% and the average wage gap with ethnic background is 2.2%.
New measures include creating a diversity of staff and inclusion council, mandatory unconscious prejudice and race awareness training, support for social enterprises that support the black community, and support for charities.
Deloitte has also set out a series of targeted interventions to address the problem, which included a broad ethnic council, mandatory diversity and inclusion training, and a black action plan to enhance diversity.
It pledged to have 12% of ethnic minorities and 3% of Black partners by 2025, with leaders determined to be held accountable for these goals.
The company’s total revenue ethnic wages revenue decreased by 3.4% to 40.1%.
Senda Kavindele, Director of Black Leadership at KPMG UK, said: The entire KPMG leadership team globally stands in support of equality and the black community.
“We took action through our firm ‘s five – point Black Life Action Plan, which included naming dedicated resources, gaining independent expertise and challenge, further commitment to advancing Black talent, and wider education. as well as our leadership responsibility.
Enoch Adeyemi, who founded the Black Professional Scotland group in 2016, said George Floyd’s protests definitely led to more businesses being able to discuss racism within the workplace.
He argued that subtle racism is a Scottish problem that needs to be addressed in the workplace, as ethnic minorities still struggle with lower wages and often have to leave companies in order to get a promotion.
Adeyemi said: This is my opinion, it may be wrong, but I think an average Scottish person can not present a black person as their manager.
“Less is less in London as they have been used to black people since Windrush, I was walking through the Canary Wharf and there were black and old Asian managers, but as far as Scotland I think there is still a mental block.”
Adeyemi said many black people prefer to stay calm rather than challenge not to be promoted, adding that companies in Scotland need to accept the problem and start a conversation about it in order to find solutions.
Dr Samuel Mwaura, a lecturer and researcher on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde, agreed that businesses should be more sensitive to ethnic minorities.
He said the topic of conversation was so nuanced that people are unknowingly racist and said this is more of a deprivation issue in Scotland, as most ethnic minorities are of working-class descent.
Its complex, because of how personal and difficult it is to talk about – I think one of the first things is that it is recognized as a problem in society and business.
Mwaura reiterated the call for intentions to monitor and implement the issue, as many firms have introduced for women’s pay and representation at seniority levels.
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