Race Equality Awards 2017-EY: Ethnic Minority Leadership Progression

Although one-third of EY’s student intake is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, representation declines in more senior roles, culminating in 8% representation at partner level. This is an improvement from 3% five years ago but remains far too low. Additionally, EY’s people survey found BAME employees were less satisfied than white employees and had a higher attrition rate. In some parts of the business BAME employees’ performance ratings were lower, meaning that they were less likely to be promoted. To solve this issue with progression, EY needed to undertake a culture change through targeted action.

Business in the Community Award Winner planter 2017

EY implemented an integrated suite of actions and processes, including:

  • An inclusive leadership programme, designed to raise awareness of insider and outsider dynamics and encourage all employees to challenge the status quo
  • The Career Watch sponsorship programme, focused on women and BAME employees, matching managers with partners in order to create a sponsorship relationship. Managers receive career support and reverse mentor the partner
  • A BME Leadership Programme targeted at high-performing senior managers and directors, encouraging participants and their business leaders to develop and support their authentic leadership skills and build networks to support their journey. The programme includes an offsite workshop, business briefings and a board level dinner. Participants also mentor junior BAME employees in order to cascade learning
  • Integrating an ethnicity lens into all people processes, including a BAME partner admission target of 10%, monitoring teams’ ethnicity and gender which is reported to team leaders (ensuring even distribution of stretch projects amongst qualified employees), monitoring rating and promotion processes in real time, requiring appraisal committees to appoint an inclusiveness champion to oversee rating and promotion decisions, and reporting outcomes to the board

As a result of these actions, BAME retention and progression has improved. The latest partner admissions were 15% BAME against a target of 10%. Over 100 BAME employees are on Career Watch and 36 BAME employees have been through the BME Leadership Programme this year and 12 alumni are now partners. Measurement of these programmes shows that participants are now more likely to stay and progress with EY.

The Inclusive Leadership Programme has reached over 2,000 senior leaders, whilst anecdotal evidence suggests an awareness of inclusion has increased across teams. Additionally, ratings and promotion processes show that the gap between white and BAME employee ratings have narrowed. A programme has also been developed to improve fluency in racial diversity as a result of board reporting on approval process outcomes. There is more work to do, but this integrated strategy on BAME progression is beginning to take effect.