Is Black Representation really Achievable?

Updated: Sep 13

There continues to be an obvious reticence within the leadership of the UK's top organisations to develop inclusion at board level.

FTSE 100 firms continue to lack representation of Black employees across leadership. This lack of diversity has led to accusations that they are dragging their feet, when it comes to opening up to inclusion.

Recent figures from the second annual update of the Parker Review tell us that only 53 of the firms listed on the London Stock exchange, have at least one ethnic minority director.

We ask the question ' Is Bame leadership really achievable?'

Slow Progress at Removing Barriers

Slow progress on diversifying leadership has led to calls from a wide section of society, including regulators, government ministers and lobby groups, to address the situation as a matter of urgency.

Research has found that diversity should be treated as part of business strategy

yet the lack of Black representation still remains a keen topical debate.

Diversity and inclusion forms part of reporting to the accounting regulatory body The Financial Reporting Council (FRC)

The FRC’s chief executive, Sir Jon Thompson, said:

“It is unacceptable that talented people are being excluded from succession and leadership simply because companies are failing to put in place appropriate policies on boardroom ethnicity, are not setting targets, or are not monitoring their progress against policies.”

For years, legislation, governments and social advocates have called for higher levels of diversity and inclusion within the leadership of companies, yet, as the reports tell us. not enough has been done to develop equity.

The failure of these companies to implement the necessary strategies to increase Black and Minority representation, leads many to cast doubt on whether it is an achievable goal.

Realistically it is possible.

Later, we will analyse some of the reasons why it has failed to succeed thus far.

Why is the Pace of Change so Slow?

There are multiple reasons why leadership has not yet fully embraced diversity and inclusion as a key people and business development tool.

The pace of change, or lack thereof, is defined by leadership ability, accountability and, above all, willingness to take the agenda forward.

There are external pressures to change the make-up of leadership, which co-exist alongside internal calls to embed diversity and inclusion.

Added to this, and perhaps more importantly, for the purposes of this post, is the fact that the fear of becoming inclusive, impacts the confidence of leadership, to make it happen.

slow pace of developing BAME representation
The Pace of Change to develop Black Representation has been slow

For years legislation, governments and social advocates have called for higher levels of diversity and inclusion within the leadership of companies. Yet, as the reports tell us. not enough has been done to develop equity.

I’d hazard a guess that most leaders have a basic understanding of the importance of inclusion. Many are aware of business cases and cognizant of the ways in which inclusion adds value to both people and business outcomes.

So why do they find it so hard to achieve?

What challenges does Black representation present for leaders, and how can they overcome them?

Below a list of some of the common problems that leadership find difficult to negotiate:

1 Lack of Knowledge

We don't know what we don't know. This is a fact.

Yet, rather than see diversity and inclusion as a business priority, many organisations still seek to measure progress in terms of the numbers of Black, and other employees, from protected characteristics.

Representation matters, and whilst some may revel in counting the number increases within the workforce, it does little to add value to representation.

developing knowledge helps increase representation
Developing Knowledge around Black issues

The numbers reveal that in the grand scheme of things, the roles that Black employees undertake, are most often not those in which key decisions