Bias in the Office

Seeking employment or promotion can be a very difficult and trying time for many people. Whilst rejection is a common expectation in the employment sector, continual rejection can test person’s will to persevere, and the impact from the knock of confidence can be long lasting.

Unfortunately, not being offered a role or promotion may not also be based on lack of qualification or experience, but regrettably as a result of corporate prejudice against those from a different ethnic background.

In a recent BBC article, Funke Abimbola (now Lawyer and Diversity Campaigner) explained from first-hand experience how people can be denied opportunities from employers simply by having a foreign sounding name. Ms Abimbola also explained that people from a Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) background must work harder to prove themselves, as they are more likely to be judged harsher than those from a non-BAME background. Although this type of discrimination within the workplace is illegal under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, for many individuals just like Ms. Abimbola, it still exists.

In an attempt for positive change in 2017, Sir John Parker published the ‘Parker Report’, setting goals for FTSE 100 firms relating to ethnic diversity in the workplace. One of the main goals is “No member of the FTSE 100 would lack a person of colour as a Director by the end of 2021”.

A mid-way Parker Report has been published and disappointingly, details uneasy statistics in relation to the ethnic minorities within the FTSE 100 firms as at 2019, including that one third of the companies still have no ethnic minority representation on their boards. It was also found that FTSE 250 had an even lower ethnic minority representation at board level, whereby 119 out of 173 firms had no ethnic diversity whatsoever.

Why is change so important?

Workplace diversity has many immediate and tangible benefits which can help a company flourish. A company with a multitude of diverse personnel can aid business growth and performance due to the benefits of workplace diversity such as: increased creativity, increased productivity, a variety of perspectives and ideas, and improved accomplishment.

The Parker Report, and the work undertaken behind the scenes, helps to fight the battle against prejudice in the workplace and encourages recruitment agencies to seek individuals from ethnic minority groups more vigorously, to increase the potential candidate pool, and equally as important, encourages individuals to put themselves forward for promotion without fear of prejudice and unfounded rejections.

Whilst there has been an improvement since 2017, there is unfortunately still a long way to go if target is to be achieved. However, there is no doubt that the steps undertaken so far are extremely important and the Parker Report certainly helps to raise awareness within the corporate world, of the change that is so desperately needed.

If you would like to discuss anything relating to this article, please contact Marie-Claire Byrne at [email protected]