I have been reading many articles churning out data around Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, in particular data around race. I have not seen anything that I would call surprising. Data is very important to show progress or the lack of progress being made. It also helps us to reflect on our past and gives us indicators on how to work towards our future.
I will be presenting some of the data I have seen with commentary to further explore what we are seeing.
In February 2020, A new Parker Review published by Sir John Barker, EY and the Department of Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) showed that 37% of FTSE 100 companies do not have ethnic minority representation on their board. In 2017 50% of FTSE 100 companies analysed had no ethnic minority representation on their boards.
Although there has been change, there is not the significant change that we would have hoped to see. There is only a 13% difference between 2017 and 2020, which demonstrates that there is more work to do.
I have noted that on an annual basis, I have been seeing data indicating the lack of representation on boards for ethnic minorities, but what I have not been seeing is any real collective determination to improve upon the differences that are clearly visible. the ‘Snow White Peaks’ still exist without little or no challenge.
Sky News reported June 2020 that white workers are, on average paid more than non-white works: the pay gap is 3.8% with workers of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin being paid on average 20% less than white British Workers.
In the Sky News report, I was quoted as saying, that there is an ethnicity pay gap of £3.2bn in the UK (source Guardian Newspaper Dec 2018). I believe it is actually more now. I also go on to say, that people need to think about why there is such a gap in pay. Ethnicity pay gaps can not only be seen in organisations where discrimination is ingrained in their policies and processes, but it can be seen also in those who lead us to believe, that they are an inclusive organisation.
The Lancet July 2020, suggests there is a cost to being Black in the UK: a tax on the colour of a person’s skin. It is the price paid for other people’s perceptions of what skin colour means about one’s abilities, behaviour or worth.
the ‘Black Tax’ is a phrase I have heard many times. The cost of being black can come at a high price which could amount to severe health issues or death. Not just by being killed by the police, but by discrimination at work which causes us to suffer mental health issues, the inability to improve our circumstances because of obstacles which are put in our way and health inequalities.
HR magazine wrote a piece on HR and race in the workplace May 2020, which included evidence from Binna Kandola, co-founder and senior partner at Pearn Kandola who conducted research highlighting that 60% of Black and 42% of Asian people have experienced racism at work (compared to 14% of white people), with one in five (20%) experiencing verbal or physical abuse.
The figures quoted are astounding but not surprising because there hasn’t been enough challenge to really deal with the issue of discrimination. In my opinion, the Equality Act 2010 doesn’t have sufficient protection to enable people to feel safe from harm at work, neither does it enforce duty of care on the organisation.
Most white people don’t believe racist discrimination exists at their workplace,but nearly half of Black employees disagree, reports MarketWatch August 2020. It goes on to say, White and Black human resource staffers are divided on just how big a problem racial discrimination is within their workplace according to new study from the Society for Human Resource Management.
49% of Black HR Professionals think race or ethnicity-based discrimination exists at their job, while 13% of their white counterparts agree. 61% of Black HR professionals think rude comments and slights exist in their workplace, compared to the 44% of white HR professionals who feel the same way.
Is this evidence a lack of emotional and/or cultural intelligence? or is this evidence of structural discrimination that makes white colleagues feel safe and comfortable and their black colleagues unsafe. Possibly all those factors play a part.
Lived experience matters, that is why black staff were likely to report a higher percentage of Not only that, you could argue that their white colleagues response just reflect that they can’t see any issues or choose to ignore them. How can their views be so different? As mentioned, lived experience matters, unless you walk a mile in another persons shoes and feel the pain and anxiety they feel, you are less likely to think anything is wrong.
Harvard Business Review Sept-Oct 2020 issue presents an article on, How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace,written by Robert Livingston. Livingston suggests that there are stages which organisations should go through sequentially; problem awareness, root-cause analysis, empathy, strategies for addressing problem and time, energy and resources.
These stages are indeed positive ways to not only identify the issue but create a more action focused organisation. Synergised Solutions Ltd adopt a similar strategy for creating a more emotionally intelligent and culturally intelligent organisation. Moreover it seeks to challenge the status quo and bring innovation to breath new life into an organisation.
The need to provide new approaches to finally eradicate discrimination is paramount. We cannot continue to use old practices on today’s issues. continuous commentary about the need for better working conditions for Black and Ethnic Minority employees is evidence that we still have a very long way to go.
Ethnic minority employees face psychological burden of fighting racism at work, reports the Metro Oct 2020. It is suggested that the burden of implementing strategies to make the work place more inclusive is disproportionately falling on Black, Asian and ethnic minority staff members.
What is interesting about this is, I recently had a discussion with a group of Black women who said exactly the same thing. They felt under pressure to perform a miracle to make the environment a better place for the Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees working in their organisations. What was evident from these discussions was that their was no senior leader support for these activities. No corporate communication bringing all within the organisation on the journey of positive change.
The emotional toll it had on some of the women I spoke to was heavy, one reported having heartaches and difficulty sleeping because of the burden put on her. She was not just suppose to champion an inclusive initiative, she was also suppose to do her day to day work. The lack of support mean’t she struggled to put in place all the things she wanted to. She felt rushed to produce results which sometimes led to little substance to the activity.
So, what is my purpose for writing this article. Why have I pulled this data together and commented. Well, I wanted to demonstrated to you, how much data is out there. Believe you me this is the tip of the iceberg. I feel data is continuously publicised, lots of research being done but, what I am not seeing is the results of the data that shows significant change is being made.
As mentioned in my first paragraph, data is very important, but without action its useless.