Diversity a key to economic success - CBI chief

Despite the uncertainties arising from Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, companies cannot afford to let diversity and inclusion slip down the corporate agenda, the president of the UK's largest business organisation said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) first Diversity and Inclusion Conference - which had to be held virtually - Lord Karan Bilimoria made the case for diversity and inclusion helping the UK’s economic recovery.“No matter where you look, there’s so much hard, quantifiable evidence like this showing that diverse businesses are more profitable, more innovative, and more competitive," he said.“A lack of ethnic diversity in business is costing the UK £24 billion a year in lost GDP.  Firms with the lowest gender and ethnic diversity in their executive teams are 27 per cent less likely to be profitable. In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, we know top-quartile companies outperform those in the bottom quartile by 36% in profitability.“And when employees feel included in the workplace their ability to innovate increases by 83 per cent.“Diversity works. It’s not just the right thing to do – it’s good business. And in an environment so uncertain, so hard-hit by Covid and preparing for a new trading relationship with the EU, no business can afford to miss out.”Lord Bilimoria urged more firms to join the CBI's Change the Race Ratio initiative, a campaign launched just over a month ago to accelerate racial and ethnic participation at the top of UK companies.He revealed to the conference that another 20 major firms had now signed up to the campaign, bringing the total so far to 55, as he called on other companies to join this “driver of national ambition and progress”.He added: “We’re still so far behind - 37 per cent of FTSE 100 companies and 69 per cent of the FTSE 250 don’t have a single ethnic minority director on their board. “Even before I became CBI President in June, we started working on ‘Change the Race Ratio’, led by the CBI along with 14 other UK prominent businesses – including Deloitte, Brunswick, Linklaters and EY.“I’m incredibly proud, and humbled, by the huge momentum we’ve seen so far. We have four asks we want every business listening to consider in their own companies.“Board representation, diverse senior leadership, transparency in disclosing pay gaps and building an inclusive culture. They are practical and entirely achievable. They could make your business more innovative, more profitable, more attractive to talent. And help make society fairer for everyone.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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