A new survey of ethnic minority business leaders in the UK from the consultancy Green Park shows that racial discrimination remains a serious challenge in the British workplaces, while UK businesses are not making sufficient progress toward meeting diversity and inclusion goals. The survey’s headline findings include that 18 percent of these leaders have personally experienced workplace discrimination in the past two years and that 82 percent of them do not trust their organizations and believe that there is institutional prejudice against minorities in the UK, People Management’s Emily Burt reports:
Meanwhile, just 2 per cent of companies surveyed by Green Park reported that they were meeting their targets for ethnic minority board-level representation, while more than a tenth (13 per cent) said they had an ethnic diversity target but no strategy for meeting it. …
However, nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed felt most workplace prejudice was unconscious. In light of this, the researchers recommended that changes in attitudes towards institutional racism must come from the top and not just left to HR to “sort out”. But while 60 per cent of the surveyed ethnic minority leaders said they believed tackling institutional racism had moved up the organisational agenda in recent months, two-thirds of these respondents said workplace language around racism was emotive and made people uncomfortable.
Burt also points to a study published earlier in the year by the University of Manchester, which reviewed 25,000 incidents of racism in the workplace and came to the conclusion “that workplace racism was increasingly normalised,” with nearly 30 percent of surveyed employees saying they had “either witnessed or experienced racism from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers.”
Meanwhile, the BBC reports on another new study conducted by the Trades Union Congress, which also found that more than one third of black or minority ethnic workers have experienced racism in the workplace:
Toward the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal’s Joann Lublin reported on an analysis conducted for the Journal by Equilar, which looked at women’s representation on the boards of directors at the 1,500 largest US public companies tracked in the Russell 3000 index and found that 76 of these firms had not had a single female director in the past ten years. The companies with a persistent lack of women’s representation were mostly smaller and concentrated in particularly male-dominated industries, but the study’s timeframe illustrates an important point about how the gender imbalance in corporate leadership perpetuates itself.
We know that having women on the board and in other leadership roles can confer numerous benefits on a business, as women bring skills and perspectives to the table that all-male leadership teams may lack. Unfortunately, men who sit on boards often don’t see it that way, and since directors are hired by other directors from their (mostly male) networks, the myth persists that there is a dearth of women with the qualifications to take on a director’s role. The qualified women are out there, but the men doing the hiring don’t know them.
Research has shown that companies with women on their boards are more likely to also have women in executive leadership roles. A study in India by the ET Intelligence Group last year found that companies with women CEOs were substantially more likely to have women directors as well. That correlation goes both ways, as the Atlantic’s Alana Semuels observed in a piece published late last month on the effects of women in corporate leadership:
The higher the share of women on corporate boards one year, the more likely the company was to hire women executives in the following year, the study’s authors, David Matsa, a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and Amalia R Miller, an economics professor at the University of Virginia, discovered. This may be because women know each other through professional networks, and when there are women at the top—say on a corporate board—they help refer women to positions that otherwise might have been filled by men, Matsa told me. The increase also could have been because women discriminate less against each other, and hire them for executive positions, he said.
The July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review focuses entirely on diversity and inclusion, provocatively stating on its cover that most D&I programs don’t work. The editors are not suggesting here that diversity is not a critical topic for organizations to address, but rather that the most common D&I approaches and perceptions of what works need to be re-evaluated. For me and my colleagues on the CEB Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council research team, this set of articles is an important contribution to the business-driven conversation about D&I in which we help executives participate as researchers and advisors to chief diversity officers and other leaders. We’d absolutely recommend that you read the issue in full, but here are the top lessons we took away:
Apple released it latest diversity report yesterday, indicating that the company has made some progress hiring more women and minorities, and has closed the pay gap between those employees and their white male colleagues, as the Verge‘s Nick Statt outlines:
[T]he company increased the percentage of female new hires from 31 percent in 2014 to 37 percent so far this year [across its 125,000 person global workforce], while the figure for underrepresented minorities [for its 80,000 person US workforce] has increased from 21 percent of new hires to 27 percent in 2016. Apple classifies underrepresented minorities as “Black, Hispanic, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Other Pacific Islander” in its report.
While Apple’s progress has been slow with regard to hiring, it is making more substantial changes to how it compensates individuals. According to the report, the company has remedied pay gaps between white and nonwhite employees and men and women in the US. It did so by analyzing salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants, to ensure its workers in similar roles with equitable performance earn the same amount of money.
Rainbow Push Coalition president Jesse Jackson, who confronted Apple CEO Tim Cool about the company’s diversity problems a few years ago, said in a statement that he is pleased with the progress thus far, applauding that “they are clearly setting the pace, making measurable progress for three consecutive years. They’ve acted with intention, not just aspiration.” In an effort to increase transparency, Apple also got rid of its “undeclared” ethnic category in this year’s report, since that population of employees was less than 1 percent as a “result of stronger internal processes and employees properly identifying themselves.”
However, to Hannah Riley Bowles, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who spoke with the Washington Post‘s Elizabeth Dwoskin, while Apple’s diversity gains are encouraging, “it would be great if [the company] could show more dramatic differences over time”:
Cracking the Code, a partnership of organizations dedicated to putting more women in corporate leadership in the UK, released new research last week showing that the number of women on the executive committees of FTSE 100 companies has not changed in more than two years, Clare Allerton reports at Personnel Today:
The findings from the collaboration between KPMG, Why Women Work, YSC and the 30% Club highlighted a career bottleneck for females at executive committee level, where the number of women has remained at 17% for more than two years. This is despite progress at every other level of the executive pipeline in the wider FTSE 250, with the number of women holding roles in the ranks immediately below the executive committee increasing to 25% in 2016.
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When Burger King merged with the Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons in 2014, it had no women on its board of directors. Tim Hortons had three, but they did not join the board of the new combined entity, Restaurant Brands International, based in Ontario. OceanRock Investments, a major Vancouver-based investor in Tim Hortons that became a shareholder in RBI after the merger, decided that an all-male board was distinctly un-Canadian and put forward a resolution that would require the organization to adopt a plan to add more female directors, and more women in leadership generally, according to Jeff Green and Leslie Patton at Bloomberg:
Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s decision to base the merged company in Canada instead of Burger King’s former home in Miami makes the lack of female board members especially unwise, Pinto said. He contrasted it to newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to ensure that half his cabinet members are women.
“It’s an odd position to take in Canada, because certainly board diversity and targeting an appropriate number of women representatives is a hot-button issue,” Pinto said in an interview. “They fairly and legitimately took over Tim Hortons, but why would you not continue with the policy Tim Hortons had in place?” …
For its part, Restaurant Brands said it has already modified its guidelines to make diversity considerations more apparent. Making a specific pledge to add women might hamper the flexibility to select the best candidates, the company said in an April proxy filing in response to Pinto’s measure.
The vast majority of RBI’s competitors, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Starbucks, have at least one female director. At this Thursday’s board meeting, investors rejected the resolution, but the pressure on RBI to diversify its leadership won’t end there, Green and Patton note:
Twitter has come under appreciable pressure in recent months to address the lack of diversity in its staff and particularly its leadership. The hiring of Jeffrey Siminoff as its head of diversity at the end of last year sparked controversy, with some observers questioning why a white man was chosen for the role. Now, in a move clearly meant to deflect some of that criticism, the social media company has added Debra Lee, the chair and CEO of BET Networks, to its board of directors. CNN Money has the story:
Lee is a long-time media executive, having served as chief executive of BET for the past 10 years. BET is owned by Viacom. In some ways, the appointment is an acknowledgment of Black Twitter, a name given to the large number of African Americans on the site. Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, recently referenced the high number of African Americans who use the platform.
“Twitter is ‘Black Twitter’,” he said on stage during Collision. “That is a brand that Black Twitter has given itself. That’s where the hashtags happen … where the excitement is.”