The number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds in Russell Group universities has doubled from 9% in 1995 to 18% today, and there are more BAME people in the workforce than ever before.
Yet, BAME individuals are still under-represented at all levels of UK organisations - from entry level to leadership positions. Additionally, representation decreases with higher levels of seniority.
Better diversity and inclusion at every level of business is a simple matter of fairness and, while a lot of the reasons for the ethnicity pay gap and the lack of representation are based on societal issues, there is a lot that businesses like yours can do .
In conjunction with the CBI’s race and equality webinar series, we’ve opened up our ethnicity pay gap guide Bridge the gap to all businesses – not just members – for a limited time. The guide features real-world case studies from CBI members and partners, highlighting the strategies and initiatives you can use in order to close your pay gap.
One key area to address is to actively diversify recruitment across all levels of business.
In January 2020, only 178 of the 2,625 FTSE 350 directors were from a BAME background. Across the FTSE 350 companies that supplied sufficient data to the Parker Review, 59% did not meet the target of having at least one person from an ethnic minority background on their board. Progression is also an issue as 52% of BAME employees believe that they will have to leave their current organisation to progress in their career.
Eight methods for organisations to improve BAME representation
Create work experience opportunities to expose young talent to executive careers
Proactively engage targeted groups of young people to raise awareness about potential future careers, for example through paid work experience
To enable real change and help attract more BAME students, Eversheds Sutherland developed the Aspire programme in collaboration with its client Wincanton Plc, a logistics company. Aspire is a work experience opportunity that offers up to eight BAME law students a week-long paid placement. The programme allows students to learn from solicitors to gain a better understanding about client-facing work, as well as gain experience working with the legal team at Wincanton to understand the in-house legal function. Aspire also offers workshops for students designed to help develop the practical skills required to become a successful lawyer. And as part of the placement, the students receive advice from a recruitment agency about the current junior legal market, and how to secure work experience and paralegal opportunities. To recruit the students, Aspire was promoted across social media platforms and through links with a range of schools, universities and BAME networks to reach as broad an audience as possible.
Partner with social enterprises to reach students from disadvantaged groups
Work with third parties such as charities to reach a broader audience and attract people from a wider talent pool
In 2018, Aviva collaborated with the Social Mobility Foundation and Upreach charities to pilot a paid internship programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Six-week placements were offered in London and Sheffield, areas in which the challenge was particularly significant, to students in their penultimate year of an appropriate degree who wanted to work in financial services. In the six weeks, students undertook meaningful work in business areas such as finance, legal, HR, investment management and customer contact. In the final week, each intern had an interview with a member of the HR team which enabled the company to understand their aspirations post-graduation and whether they were keen to work at Aviva. Of the 20 interns in the 2018 cohort, 8 were offered places on graduate programmes at Aviva.
Remove unconscious bias from recruitment
Introduce blind screening of CVs and a system to benchmark candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds to minimise bias in the recruitment process
Baker McKenzie recruits 33 trainee solicitors a year, along with 60 students for placement schemes. The firm introduced blind screening four years ago to reduce unconscious bias. Blind screening means that when a candidate applies for a role, the graduate recruitment team are unable to see their name or address. This data only becomes available after the team have screened the application. In addition, when candidates progress through the system, all candidate addresses, school and university details are covered up before candidates attend an assessment centre. The firm also uses Rare contextual data, which enables the company to recruit the best people from all social backgrounds by understanding a candidate’s achievements in the context in which they were gained. For example, if a student gained 3 B grades at A-level, but the average grade for their peers within their year group of their school was 3 Ds, this individual outperformed their peers. By understanding this contextual data, the firm can understand why candidates may have not achieved higher grades due to their circumstances. This is particularly helpful when benchmarking candidates in a high-volume process. This approach has helped Baker McKenzie to progress the same percentage of candidates from a disadvantaged socio-economic background as candidates from advantaged backgrounds.
Update your candidate selection process to discover untapped potential
Introduce a strengths-based selection process to make recruitment fairer and diversify your talent pipeline
Fidelity International reviewed its selection methods for assessing intern and graduate candidates to ensure they were supporting its ambitions to attract even more diversity into the early talent pool. They identified that traditional selection methods, such as competency based behavioural interviews, tended to favour more confident candidates who had previous experience or internships. They took a strategic decision to implement a strengths-based selection process into their graduate hiring. Strength-based selection looks at what people are good at and what they enjoy to identify their future potential in a specific job. Fidelity partnered with CAPP, a strengths-based assessment company, and designed a bespoke process that would identify both ability and affinity for a role, allowing candidates to showcase what motivates and energises them. This approach was identified as one that would further increase diversity, improve the consistency of the candidate experience, and future-proof the assessment process. The new interview process was launched in 2018 for all early career candidates. Fidelity has already achieved a 25% increase in applicants from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in just two years.
Encourage in-house mentorship between senior leaders and junior employees
A reverse mentoring scheme helps leaders to see diversity and inclusion from a fresh perspective, and it enables junior employees to gain insights and build networks to support career progression
As part of its 2017 Ethnicity action plan, Deloitte decided to focus on retention and progression of ethnic minority employees across the firm, which would help to close its ethnicity pay gap. One of the most successful ways of doing this has been its reverse mentoring programme, which piloted in 2018. The programme runs for nine months, and the initial group of 30 mentors comprised junior female and ethnic minority employees, all paired with senior leader mentees. For mentors, the programme offers the opportunity to share their insights and experiences with their senior colleagues, and mentees receive a fresh perspective on the firm’s strategy and culture. The programme has also empowered the next generation of leaders from minority backgrounds: almost half of the mentors have been promoted since the pilot began.
Accelerate your ethnic minority employees’ career progression
Implement a mentoring programme to support ethnic minority employees in building confidence, a stronger network and the ability to gain new skills to help reach senior roles
Fujitsu and Transport for London (TfL) joined forces to create a mentoring programme called Reach, designed to help employees from ethnic minority backgrounds to reach the next step in their career. Inter-company mentoring pairs encouraged skills and experience to be shared, and new networks to be created. Follow up questionnaires show that the confidence of participants in their ability to network has increased by 24%; confidence that they can be themselves at work increased by 15%; and confidence that their career progression is in their control increased by 9%. Tracking the mentees from Fujitsu have shown that, on average, participants received a 10% salary increase and 54% of mentees have been promoted or have moved roles.
Create an open and inclusive working culture
When implementing a leadership programme for BAME employees, consider how it can be a tool for wider stakeholder engagement and learning. It must be about fixing the organisation, not fixing the employee
EY’s Future Leaders Programme aims to both help support high potential BAME talent and, equally importantly, equip those who influence their career (their line managers and sponsors, regardless of their ethnicity) with the tools and confidence to talk about race and ethnicity in the workplace. For previous cohorts, high-potential candidates were identified by their line managers but EY is introducing an open application system which will allow all BAME employees at a certain level to apply and interview. Allies are selected by the candidates themselves and attend meetings and discussions on topics such as business challenges and solutions, race fluency (the ability to talk about race comfortably and confidently in the workplace), privilege and sponsorship. From the 2018 cohort, six participants have been promoted to senior positions such as Director. BAME partners have increased from 8% in 2016 to 11% in 2019.
Review and clarify promotion criteria
Establish clear criteria for promotion, with minimum levels of performance and examples of activities, and communicate to all employees
Warwick University realised that the academic promotion process needed to be reviewed if it were to be more inclusive, and thereby increase diversity in senior positions. Traditionally for academic promotions, research performance was given greater weight in decision making than teaching and other supporting activities and these were areas where female academics were more active. Under the new process, criteria for promotion are clearly stated and minimum levels of performance are required across four key activities (Research, Teaching, Impact/Engagement and Leadership/Collegiality). This ensures a more balanced approach across a full range of activities, thus reducing the negative impact on women and ethnic minorities. The introduction of an interview framework driven by evidence-based scoring has reduced the impact of bias and enhanced transparency around decision making. Proportionately more women and ethnic minorities have applied for promotions and been successful in the first two years of the scheme.
Further resources on race and equality
In conjunction with the CBI’s race and equality webinar series, we’ve opened up our ethnicity pay gap guide Bridge the gap to all businesses – not just members – for a limited time. The guide features real-world case studies from CBI members and partners, highlighting the strategies and initiatives you can use to close your pay gap.