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The 3rd Power of Diversity breakfast of 2018 saw how organisations across the city are working together to close the representation gap of BAME leaders – with BAME communities making up 13.5% of the population, but holding only 6% of management positions.  Recurring themes were intersectionality, trust and making BAME inclusion a core business objective. Our host and sponsor was Mayer Brown, who were able to share the great work they’ve been doing with their relatively newly founded BAME Network “Fusion”.

Our Chair, Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust, shared figures showing the context for BAME communities in the UK today, and how it has changed over the years. He pointed out that the average FTSE 100 CEO would have been born in the 60s, and the 1971 census recorded that there were a million BAME people living in the UK – there are now 8million. Those leading our businesses did not grow up in the multicultural and diverse UK we see now – 25% of university graduates are now from BAME communities - however last year not one single black graduate from Oxford or Cambridge got a first (1/3 of white graduates did).

We heard some solid suggestions as to what organisations can do to ensure things improve:

  • Sally Bucknell, EY UK&I, said that we need to stop looking at what people from underrepresented groups need to change about themselves to succeed, and start changing ourselves as organisations. She advocated for proportionate promotion – which has been key to EY's strategy. Managers are shown if they are promoting a lower percentage of BME or female candidates, and prompted to 'comply or explain'. She evidenced how tweaking the process disrupted people's thinking and has been hugely successful; 15% of those now entering partnership are BME
  • Cherron Inko Tariah, from The Power of Staff Networks, told us that networks should aim to be a trusted source of information – citing that their employee voice is the cheapest smoke alarm an organisation can invest in. If you feel like you’re getting held back – go to your network,  realise you’re not alone, and share ideas for how to go forward.  She emphasised that the most powerful networks have run themselves as professional operations with project plans and strong foundations.
  • Joseph Otoo and Natalie A. Carter, co-chairs of Mayer Brown’s fusion network, shared some of the activities they’ve run to get people from across the organisation involved. They aim to start a debate, get their colleagues to understand diversity, and let them see how  they can contribute to making a difference.

It was an inspiring event that showed what a great need there is for the work to be done, but also shared hope and excitement for what is available for BAME people in the city now. As one attendee said - “absolutely brilliant! We need more events like this.”

If you would like to join the next Power of Diversity Breakfast “Dynamic, flexible, agile working: How to do it differently “on July 5th, email diversity@thelordmayorsappeal.org

If you would like to see the full years Power of Diversity series click here