Key Recommendations

The Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have highlighted the inequality in outcomes for BAME individuals and a lack of understanding of the issues faced by ethnic minorities from people in power. Workforces and institutions are not reflective of their stakeholders and, despite public commitments from government, public bodies and businesses to increase diversity at leadership levels, progress has stalled over the last three years.

The present focus and conversation on race and power, presents a real opportunity to create meaningful change in racial equality both in the workforce & in society. However, the people with power must take action to unblock the pipeline to the top and level the playing field for Britain’s ethnic minority populations.

This is not only a moral obligation, but a commercial one. By now, any leader living outside of a rock will have read reports and statistics that validate that Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is good for business. With the world facing an unprecedented economic crisis as a result of COVID-19, further complicated by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the people of power on this list have a responsibility to not only ensure the commercial health of their own institutions, but of the general UK economy. We may not know what the “new normal” will look like, but we can be proactive in ensuring we are the strongest possible position to face it. This means creating the conditions that enables all talent to thrive.

At Green Park, we have been moving the dial on diversity since our inception and are responsible for advocating and championing the acceleration of high-calibre diverse ethnic minority leaders into some of the most senior executive and board positions. These are our recommendations for leaders who wish to drive real change:

End homogeneous decision-making groups

Many attempts at improving diversity & inclusion fail because they are standardised, externally sourced solutions that don’t resonate with the intended target audience. It’s only logical that inclusive approaches will fail, if they haven’t been led or co-created by the people they are meant to serve, however well-meaning: How can your approach be inclusive if you haven’t been inclusive in creating it?

We propose that public and private sector organisations should instigate a commitment to no major strategic decisions – for example major appointments or acquisitions in the private sector, and policy or legislative proposals in the public sector – being taken by a leadership team which is all male or all-white. In the event that decision making is made by an all male grouping or an all-white group, the fact should always be minuted and noted in their annual report.

Resource Change

Those in power serious about affecting real change must begin properly resourcing it. There’s a generation of articulate and personable leaders who have become very adept at telling us how important diversity and inclusion are to them. But once you start to look at the rates of progress around representation in their workforces, their management tiers and their boards, you quickly learn that reality isn’t in line with the narrative.

In the US, almost half (47%) of S&P Index companies – from Coca-Cola to Walmart – have a Chief Diversity Officer. However, there are very few British equivalents investing in similar levels of expertise. Green Park believes that all companies with over 5000 employees, or more generally responsible to the public purse for services, should follow this lead by creating and properly resourcing a Chief Diversity Officer role,  or appointing an outsourced D&I partner with the credentials, expertise and lived experience to build the knowledge and internal capabilities necessary to support an inclusive work culture.

Failing to adopt such an approach could mean UK business continues to fall behind in productivity post-Brexit and fails to recover properly post-pandemic.

Monitor, report and reward

In 2018, the government opened a consultation on ethnic pay reporting. Since then, some – mainly public sector – organisations have begun to publish figures on a voluntary basis. However, figures on ethnic pay gaps are yet to become a mandatory requirement.  Other than a few exceptions from the professional services and banking industries, reporting remains largely concentrated in the public sector.

While pay gap reporting on its own, cannot solve the problem, it does put the onus on organisations leaders to explain to their company stakeholders their progress, or lack of, at achieving equality. Similarly, monitoring and reporting all stages of hiring and role progression by ethnicity, provides facts about how your workplace is operating is a solid basis to assess levels of disproportionality.

We believe ethnic pay gap reporting should be mandatory for all public and private sector organisations with over 5000 employees, with compensation for company Chairs and Senior Independent Directors tied to meeting pay gap targets and upholding D&I policies that protect the organisations staff, customers and brand.

Hold suppliers to a higher standard

The institutions featured in the Colour of Power index hold the power to influence change far beyond their own organisations. We call for the leaders on this list to introduce mandates that ensure that their suppliers meet specific diversity requirements as part of the procurement process. For example, no company that fails to employ a person of colour at senior level should be eligible for tenders above a threshold.

Similarly, organisations should hold their recruitment partners accountable if they fail to produce diverse talent shortlists and insist on the proactive ‘marketing’ of highly talented ethnic minority candidates by executive recruiters. This includes introducing the ‘Rooney Rule’, where an ethnic-minority candidate must be interviewed for all internal hires with a salary above £60,000.

By holding procured suppliers to a higher standard or ethical conduct, organisations can create and grow their own eco-system of change, driving greater market competition to benefit the customer.