Moving Beyond the BAME tickbox - advice for employers

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As employees across the globe engage in discussions of racial justice, leaders seize this moment to consider their roles and opportunities to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion at their organisations.

In the Robert Walters Driving D&I in the Workplace webinar series, our panel of experts and thought leaders, including research partner BYP Network, broke down the challenges different ethnic groups face in the workplace, with insight and best practice advice on how businesses can take action to address issues of racial marginalisation in the workplace. 

Topics of discussion included:

  • The primary challenges faced by different ethnic groups in the workplace, as revealed from our latest survey of over 7,500 professionals across Ireland and the UK
  • Best practice advice for employers on moving beyond the ‘BAME’ tickbox
  • Key recommendations from diversity and inclusion experts on creating a workplace culture inclusive of all ethnic backgrounds.

Guest speakers:

  • Meera Raikundalia - Co-Founder at BYP Network
  • Raman Sall - Risk Director at DVB Banks
  • Ruwaida Mohammed - Diversity & Inclusion Manager and Chair of the RISE Newtork at Co-op

Below highlights key questions and answers that were raised throughout the webinar.

"As an ethnic minority looking to progress in my role, from your experience, what have you learned about pushing for more, and making yourself visible for promotion?"

Raman: As ethnic minorities, we are not expected to put our hands up or to have the light shone on us 24/7. Once you decide to shift your mindset as an individual and decide to speak up, not in a ‘showing off’ way or speaking just for the sake of it,  it changes the way you think.

It’s not just about getting that promotion or pay rise, it’s about leading as an example for others to follow. I’m a big believer of advocating for yourself, once you start ‘blowing your own trumpet’ and people learn you have something to say, they start to listen. It’s about breaking your own internal barriers that you may have and pushing yourself forward. You’re not only speaking up for yourself, but people like you.

"I think more support is needed at education level, particularly for minorities from low-income backgrounds - to give them the skills and knowledge about different career paths. Is this something employers should be doing?"

Meera: It’s a structural problem. Historically, employers have only hired from top universities, and people from lower economic backgrounds who attend worse off schools are less likely to get better results at school, because of the lack of opportunity which subsequently makes it less likely for them to go to a top university.

Even if disadvantaged groups do overcome these barriers, they still lack role models, making it harder for them to get through to interview stage for a job, and then if they’re fortunate enough to attain that job, they then must navigate their way around the working environment when there aren’t people there that look like them - there are barriers after barriers.

Employers have a responsibility to go into schools to inform young people on the opportunities out there and encourage them to come along to ‘taster’ days. 

"I think that every company has a cohort of people who are very engaged in Diversity and Inclusion, and some who think it is a waste of time, there is also a cohort of people who are "middling" interested but not engaged.  How do you encourage more engagement from the "middling" cohort of people? And what can we do to get a higher attendance at D&I events and activities?"

Meera: We need to educate on why D&I impacts the workplace and why hiring employees from minority ethnic background can be so important in helping an organisation’s business functions to grow. Humans are intrinsically selfish and it’s all about communicating with people what they can personally gain from it.  A few companies have started setting KPI's and bonuses based on employers meeting their Diversity & Inclusion targets. The conversation needs to be more hard-hitting.

Raman: It’s not always about what we can gain, people are also quite humanistic and want to give back so what can people give and share and will help get it to the activism stage.

Understanding the differing needs that exist within your organisation and building a culture where everyone can feel included will be the ultimate competitive advantage for organisations trying to tackle D&IFor more information on supporting employees with disabilities in the workplace, download the D&I Strategy Report today.

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