Black History Month: How UK leaders are approaching corporate diversity

“Corporate diversity and inclusion is self-evident across all our levels,” Ravi Krishnamoorthi, senior?VP and head of business consulting at Fujitsu EMEIAA, told Real Business. “It reflects our ethos of being a human-centric organisation, in which we pride ourselves on making things work for people. Without a real mix of employees, we would struggle to be successful.

“There are a number of ways in which we drive corporate diversity, from using workforce analytics to set meaningful targets, to rewriting job adverts in a more inclusive language which helps attract a wider pool of candidates. And to keep us moving forward and not stagnate, we ve put in place a Responsible Business Board to ensure our business stays on track for our D&I goals.

“Another example of how we are addressing the issue is through the introduction of inclusion networks, such as the Shine, BME network, LGBT+ employee network, Culture Diversity network. With these we hope to enhance the capacity of’staff to achieve their full potential and deliver what matters most.”

In the eyes of Julie Towers,”MD and board director at?Penna, employers should be inclined to conduct a diversity audit of some kind, making it clear once and for all whether more effort needs to be made. Just take a look at the BBC pay report debacle, where only ten?out of 96 high earners were found to be non-white.

Only when you?understand your current diversity rates, recruitment and development trends and successes and failurescan you best create strategies that will work to promote those of BME origins.

“A change of perspective is also crucial. Research has found that many employers are limited in what they think the ideal candidate looks like and, as such, are missing out on a wider pool,” Towers said.

At Penna, we ve found that creating readily accessible information for all potential candidates is key to attracting individuals of all backgrounds. This is particularly important for your assessment techniques they must give every individual an equal chance.

Minal Backhouse, director at Backhouse Solicitors, on the other hand, explained policies should be put in place to eradicate distasteful behaviour at all levels which could be deterring black individuals from working at certain companies.

Some 37?per cent of BME workers experienced racial discrimination by their employer, Backhouse said, making itclear bosses should be held accountable for preventing inclusion. The same should apply to staff.

“Some 15?per cent”have experienced verbal abuse and a further”four per cent say they experienced assault or physical assault in the office in the last”five years. Clearly this is a serious issue,” Backhouse stated.

“Employers should be clear they have a zero tolerance policy on racism. Employers should support staff who make complaints or raise concerns about racism and act quickly and appropriately to protect those staff.”

Even with corporate diversity measure put in place, training plays a vital role, especially if racist behaviour has been flagged up. As it stands, Sandra Kerr, race equality director at Business in the Community, exclaims that “sadly,Black History Month is needed now more than ever.”

“One in four primary and secondary school pupils come from a BME background, representing the future talent pipeline of the UK workforce. However, last month the Guardian reported that 36 out of the top 1,000 most powerfulBrits came from such a background,” said Kerr.

“There is a need for role models, and Black History Month has a part to play in inspiring young people to aspire to reach the top of their chosen careers. We should be encouraging employees and bosses alike to share their stories, and we have seen great success with employers using two-way mentoring models to do this with BME employees.

“I recently watched the film Hidden Figures, about three black female mathematicians who were instrumental in sending the first NASA astronauts into space in the 1960s. It is an amazing story and inspirational even now.

“So this Black History Month, we should be asking if we have any hidden figures in the UK not just in history but in business too and how we can celebrate them and lift them up” Doing so will inspire the next generation and create workplaces that are truly diverse and inclusive.”

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