Yesterday the Labour Party has announced its Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) manifesto, which sets out its aims to increase the representation of people from BAME backgrounds at all levels of public life, including the police, judiciary and the Civil Service. I would like to applaud the fact that a major political party has sat up and taken notice of the need to increase BAME representation in public sector bodies – but this is something that business can learn from too.
We know that there has been a significant shift in BAME demographics in the UK recently; one in four primary school children now come from a BAME background, and a quarter of a million new voters on 7th May will be BAME. This represents not only a potential future talent pool, but also a significant group of potential voters and employees that politicians and businesses can no longer afford to ignore – and it’s great to see a major political party in this coming change.
Understanding these demographics is a vital first step towards ensuring that BAME employees are given a fair chance in recruitment and promotion processes within organisations, as it provides information about where the gaps and issues are. For example, our Gender and Race Benchmark shows that organisations which monitored data on BAME recruitment, appraisal and progression at each stage of the process were more likely to have positive outcomes for BAME candidates, and I would encourage all employers who want to increase BAME representation within their organisations to undertake this type of monitoring.
However, just gathering data on its own is not enough; it needs to be backed up by strong action plans. Many organisations in the public sector offer great opportunities of how to do this successfully, including Race for Opportunity Transparency, Monitoring & Action Award winners the Home Office and the University of Manchester. They have used the information gathered to identify problems and then develop goals and targets in response, and are reaping the benefits of these actions.
And it’s not just public sector organisations doing this – private sector companies like Nationwide, KPMG and HSBC are all undertaking similar monitoring activity and using this to boost the diversity of their workforce. Our 2015 Awards, including the Transparency, Monitoring & Action Award category, are open for entry until 1st May and I would encourage employers from all sectors who are focusing on monitoring and transparency to take part and showcase their best practice.
To put it simply, by identifying these changing demographics and responding to them by addressing issues affecting BAME people, Labour are showing that they get it. After all, these public sector organisations serve diverse communities across the country and are funded by diverse taxpayers, and therefore it is only right that their workforce should reflect this. Their approach sends a strong message that they take this issue seriously and are aware that increased diversity gives an advantage not only in the UK but on a global scale – something employers across all sectors and other parties should take notice of and follow.