Business campaign to boost minority executives

Businesses in the UK have announced plans to launch a campaign aimed at increasing the number of people from racial and ethnic minorities in senior leadership roles in companies.

The 'Change the Race Ratio' campaign, which will officially launch at the end of October, is being spearheaded by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in conjunction with such companies as Aviva, Brunswick, Deloitte and Microsoft.Participant businesses will be expected to publish clear targets for greater racial and ethnic diversity at board and senior executive levels. The CBI said companies signing up to the campaign will be required to make four commitments:
  •  Increase racial and ethnic diversity among board members and set targets so that FTSE 100 companies will have at least one racially and ethnically diverse board member by the end of 2021. Among FTSE 250 companies, the target date will be 2024.
  • Increase racial and ethnic diversity in senior leadership by publishing targets within 12 months to appoint minority executives.
  • Be transparent on actions by publishing plans to achieve the required targets either in annual reports or on company websites Firms will also be required to disclose ethnicity pay gaps by 2022 at the latest.
  • Create an inclusive culture in which talent from all diversities can thrive, focusing on recruitment and talent development processes, and on mentoring, support and sponsorship. Firms should work with a more diverse set of suppliers and partners, including minority-owned businesses.
The CBI pointed out that such commitments were in line with the recommendations of the Parker Review into ethnic diversity in UK boards, published in 2016, and on which "little progress" was revealed in a review earlier this year.Lord Karan Bilimoria, the president of the CBI, said: “The time has come for a concerted campaign on racial and ethnic participation in business leadership. Progress has been painfully slow. We want to do for racial and ethnic diversity what the 30% Club has done so successfully for gender equality”.
Richard Houston, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK, added: “The energy of the Black Lives Matter movement has given a fresh sense of urgency around racial diversity in business. Change the Race Ratio aims to grasp this moment to create real and lasting change.”The Parker Review highlighted the fact that 75 per cent of FTSE 100 revenues were earned outside the UK and in markets that included nine countries expected to generate half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050. The report said that five of these nations were in Africa and three in Asia, and that a lack of diversity might inhibit a company’s ability to engage effectively with global markets.Hugh Milward, general manager of legal affairs at Microsoft UK, said: “We are on a journey to increasing diversity across Microsoft, and in particular at our most senior levels."But when more than a third of leading organisations still don't have any ethnic minority board representation, the pace of chance is too slow. Without commitment, there is no action and that's why Change the Race Ratio is so important to transforming the make-up of the UK's most influential businesses.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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