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British Telecom come first in RFO race equality index

BT is the most race-friendly organisation to work for according to Race for Opportunity’s annual investigation of race diversity practices in UK organisations.. While the public sector has a legal duty to act on race diversity, private sector organisations BT and Pearson come first and second respectively in the 2009 race equality index.

Top 5 public and private sector organisations for race diversity:

1. BT
2. Pearson
3. Ministry of Defence
4. Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)*
5. Home Office

The Ministry of Defence is the most race-friendly public sector employer according to the benchmark. West Midland Police and the British Army, also commended for their commitment to race issues, are ranked fourth and fifth place respectively.

Top public sector organisations for race diversity:

1. Ministry of Defence
2. Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)
3. Home Office
4. West Midlands Police
5. The British Army

The only detailed study of race diversity trends and best practice in the UK, Business in the Community’s Race for Opportunity campaign has been benchmarking organisations since 2001. The benchmark index surveyed 79 organisations, representing 1.5m employees and equivalent to 4% of the UK’s working-age population.

How reflective are these 79 organisations, well they are all paid members of Business in the Communities Race for opportunity initiative. Which begs the question would it make sense for a failing organisation to throw their hat in the ring? Probably not. Can we look at these organisations and assume similar initiatives are taking place across the country? Probably not. Not really a Race Equality Index is it then?

Not taking anything away from the participants Diversity Link commends the companies that took part of this and that have contributed to race equality practice in the UK. We think this audit would have been more reflective if membership wasn't a requisite. And for that reason it would be misleading to think that we have made huge progress looking at this particular equality index. What we can say is more and more companies are stepping up to the plate.

Sadly race equality at work is still far from being achieved in this decade. Only 4.3 percent of Board-level employees are from an ethnic minority, compared to 8.5 percent in the total workforce. Similarly, just over 60 out of every 100 ethnic minorities in the UK are currently employed, compared to 75 out of 100 of the white population. Furthermore, ethnic minorities are predicted to fare worse than average in periods of redundancy, as demonstrated during the 1990s recession.

Sandra Kerr, National Campaign Director for Race for Opportunity, commented: “In tough times it’s easy for organisations to neglect diversity, particularly when it concerns race which is often seen as less of a priority than gender and sexuality. It is a huge credit that so many organisations have chosen to take part in this research.

posted by

Asif Yusuf

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