In the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic murder, British companies made pledges to address racism and promote diversity within their ranks. However, a recent study has revealed that these organisations have failed to make significant progress in hiring and promoting Black senior leaders.
Despite widespread corporate activism and symbolic gestures of solidarity, nearly 70% of companies surveyed have not increased the representation of Black, Asian, or ethnic minority leaders.
Challenges faced by minority employees
The study, conducted among 2,000 professional office workers, sheds light on the persistent challenges faced by minority employees within British workplaces.
Commissioned by renowned recruitment firm Zyna Search, the research highlights that 65% of respondents believed their companies would greatly benefit from having a racially diverse leadership team. Additionally, 65% of participants expressed satisfaction with diversity training programmes and desired continued implementation.
Insights agency Perspectus Global, which conducted the research, also revealed that over two-thirds of Black respondents considered the racial diversity of a company when deciding whether to apply for employment. This finding underscores the importance of representation and inclusion in attracting diverse talent.
Disturbingly, the study exposed various experiences of discrimination faced by Black, Asian, and ethnic minority employees in the workplace. A staggering 57% of Black staff felt they had been passed over for promotion, compared to 34% of white staff.
Of those individuals, 59% believed that the decision was based on the colour of their skin, while 55% reported applying for a promotion that ultimately went to a white colleague. Furthermore, 60% of Black employees felt compelled to “code switch,” altering their language or appearance to fit in at work.
The research also highlighted that 75% of Black staff felt generally underrepresented in the workforce, indicating a lack of diversity across various employment levels. Shockingly, 46% of Black employees reported having to anglicise their names to accommodate their colleagues’ pronunciation.
Marcus Whyte, Founder of Zyna Search, commented on the findings, saying, “It’s encouraging that efforts to combat racism in the workplace have begun, but the report demonstrates that more work needs to be done, particularly in terms of senior leaders and individuals with influence and power.
“Many companies made promises to improve diversity following George Floyd’s murder, but the reality is that the FTSE 100 still lacks Black CEOs or chairpersons. Meaningful and measurable progress is essential, with Black, Asian, and ethnically diverse employees represented at all levels of businesses.”
The importance of racial diversity
Whyte emphasised the importance of representation to Black employees and highlighted the sound business sense behind diverse organisations. He pointed out that diversity drives competitive advantage, performance, and revenue. In a highly competitive labour market, companies that embrace diversity have a significant opportunity to tap into a broader range of talent pools and gain a competitive edge.
As the study reveals the persistent gaps in diversity and inclusion efforts, it is clear that organisations must go beyond symbolic gestures and actively pursue measurable change. By fostering diverse leadership teams and promoting inclusive practices, businesses can create better workplaces and harness the benefits of a diverse workforce. The journey toward true equity and representation continues, and it is crucial for companies to take meaningful action to ensure progress in the post-George Floyd era.