Race for Opportunity suggests that a Davies-style review into racial barriers is needed.
Racial inequality in UK management has widened almost to the “point of no return” according to figures from Business in the Community’s race equality campaign, Race for Opportunity.
The number of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people in top management positions fell by 22 per cent over a five-year period, doubling the gap between the number of BAME people and white people in similar roles.
10 per cent of the UK’s working population is from an ethnic minority background, and yet BAME people hold only one in 16 top management positions, and one in 13 management positions.
The report, ‘Race at the Top – 5 years on’ gives a comprehensive picture of BAME representation in leadership in UK business today. Despite a definitive call for action in 2007, the latest numbers suggest there has been little progress over the last five years and “in fact, the situation is far worse than we predicted”, the report stated.
Key findings show stark differences in success rates and sector representation, with the Black/Black British population in top management positions taking the greatest hit, decreasing by 42 per cent over a five-year period.
Many UK sectors also continue to be closed off to BAME people when it comes to leadership opportunities, with construction, media and political sectors mostly headed by white employees.
However, banking and finance was highlighted as the sector “getting it right” when it came to career progression. The number of managers from all but one ethnic group increased between 2007 and 2012.
Perhaps surprisingly, the ‘other services’ sector category, which includes SMEs, had the second fastest growth rate of BAME managers, a 51 per cent increase between 2007 and 2012.
But experts questioned whether BAME people are choosing to start new businesses as a matter of preference, or whether it is necessary, as there is very little opportunity to progress in the more traditional industries.
BITC is calling for greater action from the government to ensure ethnic minorities progress into management positions at the same pace as the general working population.
“By 2051, one in five people in the UK will be from an ethnic minority background, representing a scale of consumer spending and political voting power that business and government alike cannot afford to ignore. The gap must not be allowed to widen further, but without action, little will change,” said Sandra Kerr, Race for Opportunity director.
“I am calling on government for a ‘Lord Davies’ review to amplify understanding around the barriers BAME employees face in reaching management positions, and for two simple words – “and race” – to be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code. We urgently need these to happen if we are to ensure that we don’t pass the point of no return,” she added.