My Lords, the driver for this debate is that earlier this year the Secretary of State asked my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith to lead a review into the issues faced by business in developing black and minority talent from recruitment through to the executive level. We will be hearing from my noble friend shortly, and I know how much she will value noble Lords’ input into her review.
We need to move towards a world where ethnicity and indeed gender are not issues and only skills and experience count when it comes to assessing suitability for appointments. We are not there yet and there is much to do, but I believe that we have made progress. Consider my Secretary of State: the son of a bus driver in Rochdale and then living in a deprived part of Bristol, he rose through hard work to become a vice-president at Chase Manhattan at the age of 25 and the first BME Cabinet Minister at the age of 44.
My noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith herself is another extraordinary role model, the only Asian and female CEO of a £2 billion FTSE 250 company. She has championed change in the workplace by making the best use of female and ethnic minority talent. She has done that through her generous public contribution as a role model, first as chair to the Women’s Business Council and now as chair of the new BME talent review. Having a debate to gain insights into the issues she is addressing in this review, with secretarial support from BIS, at this early stage in her work is an excellent one. The review is looking at the business and economic case for employers to harness the potential from the widest pool of talent. I believe that we need to reach a situation where the prospects for BME individuals who want to progress at work are as good as those for their white counterparts in the same situation—neither better nor worse.
My noble friend’s review will look at obstacles to progress, including cultural and unconscious factors. I would like to make a small diversion to tell a story about how culture and attitudes can change for the better over time.
Richard Stokes MC was a brave and talented engineer who became a managing director of Ransomes & Rapier, the Ipswich engineering firm, at the age of 30. He tried to join the Conservative Party to fulfil his political aspirations, but it would not consider him as a candidate because he was a Roman Catholic. Wounded but not bowed, he joined the Labour Party instead and became MP for Ipswich, where the votes of his 2,500 employees were very useful in keeping his seat. He had a successful career, running the firm part-time and campaigning on important issues such as the inadequacy of Allied tank design; the justification—or lack of it—for the bombing of Dresden; and the ghastly forced repatriation of Yugoslavs after Yalta. He even served briefly in the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal, before an early death. That man was my great-uncle, Uncle Dick. But the important point of the story for today’s purposes is that discrimination against Catholics, which he suffered from so acutely—in his case in the Conservative Party—has totally gone. A similar change in attitudes to BME is taking place, and that will continue.
There is evidence to that effect. I quote from the House of Lords Library Note of
Looking at our own House, it is a great pleasure to see my noble friends Lord Popat, Lord Sheikh and Lord Polak in their places today, each with a long history of serving business and their communities—they are role models for us all. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has also had a career full of challenging and high-profile roles. I am also delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, in his place today—he has campaigned tirelessly to improve the life chances of the homeless and unemployed—as well as the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, who is a role model in community health. Moreover, no debate on the subject would be complete without the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Handsworth, whose passion for cricket I share. I also see the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, in his place; he and I used to work together on the UK India Business Council. Our debate today shows that ethnic minority talent is there for all to see on all sides of this House.
The review will also look at data and their role. I am opposed to quotas but I know that when the industry-led review by the noble Lord, Lord Davies, started to collect data and articulate good practice, it changed attitudes in companies. At Tesco, where I sat on the plc board as an executive, we used to monitor our top female talent and look out for opportunities to advance them. We also identified top talent of non-British origin. For us as an international company, it was important that we reflected, and were seen to reflect, the diversity of our operations. In an international company, a diverse board inspires a greater degree of solidarity within the company and a sense of fair play. One of my sons works for a French bank in the City of London, and I can tell noble Lords that that illustrates globalisation in action.
Another strand to the review’s work is promoting best practice. Sharing ideas is a great way to secure results and promote innovation, as we have seen with the Business in the Community Race Equality Awards. This year is the 10th round of annual awards, and some of the previous winners have truly inspiring stories.
Another important feature of best practice is understanding what does not work, which certainly leads to improvement. I know that my noble friend will be interested to hear of any examples that have not had the desired effect or, even worse, have hampered opportunities for ethnic minorities. As we know, the key to understanding what works and what does not is to monitor the impact of that activity and ensure buy-in from all levels of the business—something I know my noble friend is driving in her own company.
BME entrepreneurs can be rich sources of growth and of British success. In a recent debate in the other place, the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey spoke with great passion about the changes taking place in broadcasting and the opportunities it brings. This will no doubt be reflected in the BBC charter White Paper, which is due later this month.
However, for success we need better education and better training outcomes in this country. That is the best way of achieving opportunities for all. Quality apprenticeship schemes are an absolute priority for the Government. They will give us an opportunity for employer-led development and a route to success for people who do not want to go to university or who have not done well enough at school.
Improving our schools by a relentless focus especially on English and Maths means that all pupils, regardless of their background, are engaged and challenged to make the best use of their abilities. I was therefore glad to read that, for example, 81% of black African pupils achieved the expected level of attainment in reading, writing and maths at key stage 2, which is slightly above the national average of 80%.
Another important strand of the Government’s work is to encourage integration so that communities are brought together, celebrating our shared British values rather than focusing on what divides us. Work led by DCLG on cohesive communities is important. Louise Casey was asked to carry out a review of how to boost opportunity and integration in these communities, and that includes how we can ensure that people learn English. This is vital. In England and Wales, over 750,000 people have only poor or even no English. Unsurprisingly, migrants with fluent English are much more likely to be in employment and earn 20% more than those without such skills. Poor English appears to be a particular problem in Muslim communities. In 2011, 22% of Muslim women in England spoke poor or no English, compared with 2% of the overall female population.
Finally, fair recruitment matters, so that people do not feel discriminated against when they apply for a job. The announcement by the Prime Minister last October regarding the adoption of name-blind recruitment by a number of public and private sector employers is an important step in ensuring that this fairness exists and is seen to exist. Organisations such as HSBC, Deloitte, Virgin Money and KPMG, which are responsible for employing a combined 1.8 million people in the UK, joined public sector employers to show their commitment to fair recruitment.
This is an important debate and I look forward to learning a great deal from the experience and expertise of those assembled here this evening.
My Lords, I put on record my thanks to the Minister for raising this debate and for the eloquent way in which she set out her arguments. It affords me the opportunity to quote the words of Edmund Burke, who said:
“It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph”.
There remain alive in this country today a number of African-Caribbean persons who can still recall a time in this nation when the Aryan myth of white superiority was displayed on the streets of Britain and when those whose skins are black, who were invited to this country to repair the ravages of the last two World Wars, were abused, insulted and treated less favourably by the bigots of this nation. Such bigotry was alien to these who endured it, even when the home of a well-known GP, David Pitt—who later became a Member of your Lordships’ House as Lord Pitt of Hampstead—was burned down. Lord Constantine was also abused by some, even though he was admired for his cricketing prowess.
Most of those people were willing to keep their heads down but others saw that the insults could not be tolerated when English men and women took to the streets to show how passionately they felt, feeding fears that this country would be taken over by immigrants. However, the mighty words of Edmund Burke came to the fore and steps were taken to counter the sad state of affairs that we were living through. I arrived in Britain in 1951 as a student and I saw immigration. Good men and women such as Lord Brockway took charge and lobbied against those voices, including even that of an MP, Enoch Powell, who talked of “rivers of blood”. Black people did something: they stood up and confronted the intolerance of this nation.
Progress has been made. Under Harold Wilson came the first Race Relations Act in 1965. Further Acts were introduced in 1968, 1976 and 2000. These Acts of Parliament had a major impact on overt racism. The Commission for Racial Equality was there to advise people on how best to take advantage of the legislation when they were confronted by such racism. It was surprising for many of us working in the field to find later that we had to deal with covert racism in a country which considered itself Christian and civilised.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission was set up, bringing together women, the disabled, people of different races, and gays and lesbians. The Commission for Racial Equality was wiped out completely and all the other institutions which were of help to those seeking justice quickly disappeared. It was felt that there was no need for such organisations. In some ways it is true that racial bigotry had been unlearned by some but, where it persists in the workplace, black employees talk among friends about their scars. According to an article in the Independent, engagement and progression by black people in the workforce have deteriorated over the last decade, despite evidence showing that black young people born in this country outperform white students.
The noble Baroness mentioned the awards that have been made. Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust, says that it is time we stopped telling young people from different ethnic backgrounds that all they need to do is get better qualifications and integrate more and all will be fine Sadly, that is not true. The evidence shows that this generation does not have a problem with attitude or with bad grades, but it does have to deal with discrimination on grounds of race. I ask the Minister: what else explains the poor deals that these people get in the workplace?
I will refrain from relating stories that I hear daily and list a few things that happen in the workplace: bullying, which appears to be all about egos; lack of promotion, even though people from ethnic backgrounds are expected to train others who then overtake them because of the colour of their skin; and victimisation, where people are told, “You only got the job because you are black”.
I end by asking the Minister to consider very carefully what she hears today and to play her part, working with the black community to end the bigotry of the Aryan myth of white superiority, known as racism, in the world. All men are equal in the sight of the Creator and deserve better.
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Neville-Rolfe for introducing this important debate and for providing me with the opportunity to speak today.
When I was appointed chief executive of Mitie nine years ago, and thus became the first Asian FTSE chief executive, I did not really want to talk about gender or race. I had not even realised that there was anything special about my position. I had not realised that there was anything special about being female, being Asian, being from a Muslim family and looking quite different. More than anything, I just wanted to fit in and to be recognised for my talents. Having started with those intentions, I then began to think about how much these issues really mattered.
Since then, I have chaired the Women’s Business Council and am now hugely honoured to lead an independent review of the obstacles faced by BME individuals in progressing through the labour market. That is quite a departure from how I felt a few years ago, and the reason is that I was mistaken. I imagined a world where it was not news that I was Asian and leading a FTSE 350 company, but, sadly and unfortunately, it is. I imagined a world where only skills and experience were discussed, not ethnicity, gender or any challenges regarding diversity. I guess that I imagined a world that is still a long way off. But at least I think that we now know what success can really look like. I am thinking of a world that moves far beyond identities, with no more talk about quotas and targets, to a position where we start to talk about what people do with their talents. I hope that everyone—male or female, black or white—will one day have access to some of the same schools, the same professions and, more importantly, the same opportunities as everybody else. We are not anywhere near that place yet, but I am honoured to chair this review and to draw on my own experience to help bring about the changes that we need. The challenges that we face are significant.
The latest ONS statistics show that, at 62.7%, the BME employment rate is 13 points below the white employment rate. It is lower still when you look specifically at the Pakistani or Bangladeshi populations. Worse still, the biggest discrepancies exist in youth unemployment. White unemployment among 16 to 24 years-olds is 13%. Asian youth unemployment is 24% and black youth unemployment is higher still, at 27.5%.
As my experience has taught me, getting people into the workplace is not enough. We have to make sure that anyone of any background with the right skills can get into top management positions in business in the public sector. Currently, one in 10 employed people comes from a BME background but only one in 16 fills a top management position. We need to find out why these numbers do not match. We need to find out what the barriers are and break them down. There is very little BME representation at a senior level in business or in any public sector organisation today, and I do not think that that is acceptable.
For me, this is not just about opportunity for individuals; it is about a productivity dividend that will pay out for the whole UK economy. Ethnically diverse companies are higher performing. A 2015 McKinsey study found that firms in the top quartile for diversity were 35% more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile. More diverse companies are able to win top talent, improve understanding of customers and increase employee satisfaction, all of which lead to increased returns. So whether any of us are interested in social justice and equality of opportunity, economic growth in the UK or just plain old profitability, this debate is seminal. The review that I am leading will look specifically at what employers can do to help and what issues they currently face in developing BME talent.
First, we need to build further the business case for change, asking what benefits the public and private sectors get from accessing the widest pool of talent available. Secondly, we need to be really clear about the obstacles that BME groups can face as they progress through the labour market. Thirdly, we need to ask what impact these obstacles have—why educational attainment does not always match up to executive positions. Fourthly, we need to bring together existing data to illustrate the scale of the issue, and to look at them in more depth. Are things different for different ethnicities, and how much is about economic circumstance as well as where you are from?
Fifthly, we need to look at best practice. Certainly I plan to draw on some of my own experience and that of others to highlight what works—there are some great examples of what can work—and encourage others to do the same. Here, we also need to consider how to replicate the success that many large, well-resourced companies have had in this area and spread this success to our SMEs. At Mitie, for example, we are starting to introduce aspirational, five-year diversity targets for all our businesses across the group. Personally I have been a fan of aspirational targets, as I think that they help to drive change. I am not a fan of quotas. I think that resorting to quotas says that we have failed. Instead, we have to take the actions that we need to take before getting to the challenge of quotas. Lastly, and most importantly, we need to make cost-effective recommendations to advance BME progression in the labour market.
I reassure noble Lords that the talent is out there—this is not just affirmative action—but we just need to go out and meet that talent in the middle. We need careers advisers to open doors to all the professions, and we need mentors to show BME employees that they can climb as high as they want. We need role models who look and feel like BME individuals to help inspire our young people, and we need to deal with the challenges of unconscious bias, which is a huge issue for all organisations.
The individuals whom I have worked for in organisations have always supported and mentored me. They believed in me and encouraged me to get to the top, telling me that I could do so. More and more, people at the top of their organisations need to do the same and understand that that is their role. They have to find the next generation of leaders and take this on as a real personal responsibility. I think that we are moving in the right direction. BME employment is the highest since records began 15 years ago, and we can narrow and close the gap on the challenges that we have. We can reach a world where we talk about our leaders not as black or white but with regard to what they are actually qualified in.
I will finish by referencing what Idris Elba said when he came recently to Parliament. He talked about diversity, specifically diversity of thought, and a casting director called Nina Gold who discovered John Boyega, a British African from Peckham. He said:
“Since when did the lead character in Star Wars come from Peckham? Since a woman with imagination became the casting director”.
I hope that in this place, in this debate, and indeed through my recommendations which will be published later this year, we can inspire everyone to show similar imagination and help Britain reap the benefits of all of its people.
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to speak in this debate. I congratulate the Minister on calling the debate, and indeed the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, on leading the review. I do not think that I have had the chance to welcome her to the House, so I say hello and welcome.
I want to say a few things. As we all know, the UK is a diverse and multicultural society, despite the grumblings of my good friend Trevor Phillips, who imagines that multiculturalism is a bit like putting milk in coffee and that you can un-mix it. It is what it is, and we need to start there. I am a non-executive at NHS England and the chief executive of a care organisation—one of very few of reasonable size. The great noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, is a notable business woman with a stellar track record, and there are many Members of this House whose track record is admirable by any standard. But one must consider that these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
It is important that we understand something. In the Minister’s opening address, she made the point that hard work and ambition should be the ticket to success. That needs to be corrected, in my view. I know many, many talented, hard-working BME community members whose dreams and careers have been thwarted by nothing less than racism. We have to face that head on. Given the statistics quoted by both the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, and the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, I do not think that we can simply say to a number of our communities that hard work and ambition will get you there. It will not. The exceptions that prove the rule make that point admirably. We have to address the unfairness in the system.
Let us start with the title of this debate: to take note of the issues faced by black and minority ethnic people in the workplace. As has been pointed out, there are many members of black and minority ethnic communities who would love to experience the workplace but who have been discriminated against, which has led them to not be in the workplace. I must add that they are then victims of, in my view, a pretty cruel welfare system which considers that poverty in itself is an incentive. They are disproportionately represented in virtually every misery statistic that I have worked with over a 30-year career in public services: in homelessness, among children in care and in the criminal justice system. They are not overrepresented in the senior echelons of public, private or not-for-profit service delivery. That is unacceptable.
The Prime Minister’s pledge to increase the BME employment rate by 20% as part of the Government’s BME vision is welcome—but I have to say right now that that is going to be a challenge. Mr Cameron stated:
“For too many people, even a good education isn’t enough. There are other barriers that stand in their way”.
I wish he had just said “racism”. He said:
“Do you know that in our country today, even if they have exactly the same qualifications, people with white-sounding names are nearly twice as likely to get callbacks for jobs than people with ethnic-sounding names?”.
There can be only silence at that, because where I come from, the response to the speech was, “No X-X-X, Sherlock”. The fact is that we have known about this challenge for many years. Successive Governments have known about this challenge for many years, as they have known about the disproportionality in employment rates between young BME people and their white counterparts.
This debate has a sense of urgency underpinning it because the demographics are not in our favour. If you look at the fastest-growing population in most of our major conurbations, you will see that they are people who look like me, the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, and others in this House. This is not a challenge for BME groups. It is not a matter of morality, even—you do not have to care about any of this. This is a matter of economic survival and the sustainability of the country. We need to break barriers. The barrier to getting a job is challenge enough: 40% of jobs are not advertised. It is about “the network”; it is about who you know and how you know them; it is about access to the choice experiences that might get you into our media, our judiciary and our politics. It is all word of mouth. If you are in the network, you are in; if you are not, you are not. And although there are exceptions that prove the rule when these networks have worked for BME groups, the generality is that the opposite is the case. That is why we are having the debate.
I want to move to an age where there is no debate; where I can say that I am a black leader and it will be seen not as a political statement but a fact. We need to break down significant barriers. The recruitment process itself, where staff hire in their own image, limits people from BME communities entering the workforce in the first place. While there have been improvements, the statistics speak for themselves and they are not good enough. Sir Lenny Henry has commented on this in relation to the arts, both in administration behind the cameras and in front of the cameras. Look at the administrators and performers in the classical arts. The lack of BME representation is shameful. The work being done around women on boards is laudable. But the question I often ask myself is: which women? Where public money is concerned, there are questions that need to be asked of leaders, whether they be black or white, as to how they are managing the use of my tax money in making decisions as to who should lead the public services that we pay for.
The second barrier is lack of progression. After getting a job, being promoted within it is a major challenge. My experience as a board member of NHS England led me to help set up the workforce race equality strategy. As a result of information brought to the attention of the NHS by Yvonne Coghill, we now know that there is a direct correlation between BME leadership of hospitals and care organisations and the quality of care on the ground. Much work needs to be done. It was a real struggle setting up the workforce race equality strategy, because there was a lot of resistance. It was seen as a political intervention rather than one of good management and leadership.
I will end by making three requests. Although I welcome the review—it is long overdue and I hope that it receives cross-party support and engagement—there are three things that we need to do if we are to take this seriously. The first is that we should set up a structured way of observing government expenditure and intervention across departments and their influence. We must ask whether we are spending government money and using government leadership appropriately to lead the way. We should look at some of the initiatives that are currently out there and ask them to support such a cross-government observatory.
Secondly, the Government in setting up and holding inspectorates to account should require those inspectorates to ask simple questions. This is not about quotas and it is not about setting targets—although the notion of targets within businesses is to be welcomed. This is about asking leaders of public, private and not-for-profit organisations, particularly where they receive government funding, “What are you doing in this area?”. Where there are departments—and there are departments and institutions funded by government or receiving large amounts of money through tenders to government departments—which have never had a BME leader, the question should be asked as to why. There have been black people in this country since Roman times. We need a good answer.
So the future of this country lies in the things that we have not discussed. We have not discussed race enough and we have not been serious enough about the things that we need to do to provide a truly equitable society, a truly prosperous country and true economic prosperity for us all.
My Lords, I applaud my noble friend for introducing this debate and, even more greatly perhaps, my other noble friend for agreeing to chair this vital taskforce. This is such an important subject and I am delighted to be able to make a contribution in the debate. I need first to declare all my interests, personal, political and professional, in the register. Many will know that this topic has been close to my heart for coming on 50 years.
I am pleased that our workplace is a lot better than it used to be. When I was first a Member of Parliament, there were 22 women out of 600 MPs—and women, after all, were the majority of the population. There are now darn near twice that number of minority ethnic Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. I am pleased about that because I do not know all their names; if there are so few of you that one knows all your names, you really are an endangered species. In this House, we have made good progress. It is not enough, but we should give the credit that is due. It is interesting to see the degree to which the police, fire and rescue and many other groups are realising that this matters.
The noble Lord, Lord Morris—I would like to say my noble friend—will speak after me. When he became General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, I well recall that it was a time when many trade unions had an appalling attitude to race and to black and ethnic minorities.
We have learned a lot from the debate about women. I was against quotas, targets and all the rest of it, but there is no doubt that we now have a toolbox, and it has gone well. I am even more resentful of the fact, but recognise, that one had to have white men to really make this happen. My other noble friend, although on another Bench, the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, was an early campaigner for the role of women and their contribution. I spent a lot of time when I was Health Secretary saying, “This is the biggest employer of women in the country. We should do much more in terms of women’s development”. Our colleagues, the noble Baroness, Lady Fritchie, and my noble friend Lady Cumberlege, were my great allies. Then I realised that, of all the employers where the black and minority ethnic people are not on the shop floor but in the professions—in the NHS you had doctors, pharmacists, psychologists and nurses—how much more deplorable it was that those people were not being developed on an equal basis. I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Fritchie, who coined the expression “stale, pale and male”. Neither the women nor the black and ethnic minorities were getting through.
My advice to anybody who does an intolerable job is to decide on two things that they really care about. I decided when I became Secretary of State that the BME issue really worried me. I convened a working group; we had lunch together every two months—people throughout the NHS from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. I was shocked by the experience. It seemed that the Patient’s Charter enabled patients to say exactly what they thought to people from black and minority ethnic groups—we know that black doctors get at least four times as much harassment and difficulty as other groups.
We then turned that into an action plan. I was pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, say that he is involved in the important NHS programme that is under way, but I would not mind referring him to my 1993 statement, when I said:
“The programme I am … launching aims to address the barriers which face … ethnic minority staff … I want to stress that taking action to promote equality in employment is not just a matter of moral justice or of fairness to people from minority ethnic groups. It is good, sound common sense, and it makes business sense too … A workforce which is multi-racial at all levels is best placed to deliver the best possible health care to all sections of the community”.
I always took the view that, as a taxpayer-funded service, the NHS should reflect all taxpayers, particularly when it is available to all. The key issues were training, racial harassment, appointments to NHS boards, service delivery—and a particular programme relating to doctors. The noble Lord mentioned name-blind recruitment. The now Sir Sam Everington—then a rabid leader of the junior doctors—talked me through a programme in which junior doctors called Patel had eliminated their names and had received much better priority in the rotation. It was really shocking evidence that could not be avoided.
I remember in about 1992 asking all the presidents of the royal colleges to come up to the very grand room in which the Secretary of State lives at the Department of Health. I said, “There’s something I want to talk to you all about. Not once has there been a black or minority ethnic president of a medical royal college in this country”. It was not causal, but I am very pleased that our colleague, the noble Lord, Lord Patel, then became a president, along with my noble friend Lord Ribeiro and others. They were all first-generation, and these are all issues that matter. There is no job that a woman cannot do, and there should be no job that someone from a black or ethnic minority cannot do. I used to have great battles with the overseas doctors association. I said, “Well, you may be black doctors, but you’re not overseas doctors”. Eventually, they changed their name to the British International Doctors’ Association.
Why has more not happened? I want to endorse the importance of the Workforce Race Equality Standard—Simon Stevens chairs the diversity council within the NHS—and the work being done to a high professional standard building on the lessons that we know but must be repeated and reinforced.
Perhaps an area closer to the Minister’s responsibilities is the situation in universities. How good it is that we read that, now, a black student is more likely to go to university than the equivalent white student or pupil from school. Progress is being made, but I am not talking about access to services, whether it is the NHS or education. What I feel very strongly about is the career development of black and minority ethnic academics within the system. The noble Baroness, Lady Amos, has just been made the head of SOAS. She would be the first to say that she did not come up through an academic route, but at last we have one black—and female—head of an academic institution.
My first love is my role as Chancellor of the University of Hull—we are very privileged to have the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, as one of our most distinguished professors; he has been there a long time and may be able to add more about this. Work is under way to try to understand why there has been such a lack of progress in academic staff. It is not a monolithic picture; it is a heterogeneous picture of the highest people on the pay spine. Twenty-two per cent are Chinese—19% are white—15% are mixed race and 8% are black. All the relevant groups are put together in “black and minority ethnic”, but the high proportions of black and minority ethnic academics are in chemical engineering, clinical dentistry and electrical and computer engineering. There are very low rates in archaeology, marine and environmental sciences, agriculture, forestry and food sciences.
I ask my noble friend to give all the support she can to the Equality Challenge Unit, a charity funded by the UK higher education funding bodies, because of the work it is taking forward. Again, it is developing its own charter to recognise those institutions that meet the standard, just as we have seen with women. I am very pleased for the noble Lord that Staffordshire University meets that standard, as does UCL, King’s College London and Kingston. Eight universities in all now have the bronze standard, but we need the Athena SWAN programme to deliver this in practice. Why are we not seeing the advancement of more black and minority ethnic staff?
In her opening remarks, my noble friend referred to some of the work done by McKinsey. The McKinsey team in London, led by Vivian Hunt, herself a magnificent, formidable, deeply impressive black woman, has done a lot to throw light on some of the issues. My noble friend referred to this encouraging people to be customer-centric and to create a better workplace, but diverse teams also lead to diverse solutions. Monoclonal teams create monoclonal solutions. If the problems of the world today are the pace of change and the interconnectedness of the world, it is essential to have teams of people from different backgrounds, all of whom feel they can be themselves at work. Whether they are female, LGBT, black or ethnic minority, individuals need to feel at work that they can be free and liberated to be themselves, in order to give their employment and their tasks all that they can.
Mention was also made of Business in the Community. I hope noble Lords will read about that work, which has been undertaken in conjunction with YouGov. There are many familiar themes, but the most interesting thing was that 42% of the white people and 34% of the black and minority ethnic people interviewed felt that people were not comfortable talking about race in the workplace. That differentiates the debate from that around women. When I am trying to explain to a limited male about the issues around women, I simply say, “Don’t talk about girls and don’t talk about ladies. On the whole, if you stick to “female” or “woman”, you are fine”. But when it comes to black, Asian, minority ethnic, ethnic minority or BAME, people are nervous about the terms. I was talking to a leader in industry who was tremendously committed, but started to talk about coloured people. I said, “You cannot talk about coloured people. You mean people of colour”. Many people are nervous about how to even begin to get into the conversation.
Then there is the difference between different ethnic groups. There are huge differences of history and culture, attitude to work and attitude to families. In my humble view, the more you can create a debate and discussion, the better. On the female side, a lot of men became mentors to women—terribly patronising, in my view. But whatever the men taught the women, the women taught the men a huge amount. I am in favour now of mentoring and having leaders to develop people from black and minority ethnic groups, so that they can explain and help to highlight the issues that matter—unconscious bias, employee network groups and so forth.
Sandra Kerr at the Race for Opportunity team said:
“The terminology is part of the barrier, but not starting the conversation in the first place is the biggest barrier of all”.
The Nationwide has done a great deal—I do not work for the Nationwide and have no interest to declare. It has been a great role model. It says:
“We all own and shape organisational culture, but it’s led from the top. It therefore has to be us as leaders who set the tone. Any culture change programme, including work to advance race equality and wider diversity and inclusion, must be championed and delivered from the top. Having an active race champion is a powerful signal in any organisation and having one who also provides thought leadership and speaks publicly about race equality issues, even more so”.
I welcome this debate. We have reached a time when there is a critical mass of both achievement and dissatisfaction. It is imperative to ensure that we increase our productivity as a nation, drawing on the talents of all the citizens of the country, and I wish my noble friend well in her critically important taskforce.
My Lords, it is often said that in politics it takes courage to champion a minority cause. Why? Because there are no votes in it. So on this occasion I pay due tribute to the Minister for providing time and indeed support for this important and timely debate. From her experience outside the Westminster village, she will have concluded that people are the greatest assets of any organisation. Therefore, it is a debate that is long overdue and relevant to the current economic climate. One could say that it is a debate whose time has come.
It saddens me that in 2016, 15 years after the Race Relations Act and six years after the Equality Act, we are still taking note. Surely, by any standards of progress, it is time to take action, not just note. The good news is that the employment rate gap between the overall population and ethnic minorities has been decreasing gradually, but the slow improvement might not be seen as good news for those still unemployed—those from ethnic-minority communities join a longer and longer queue to wait for a job.
The evidence is clear that for many from the ethnic-minority communities, the problem starts not at the workplace necessarily, but with the CV submission. A senior manager of a leading recruitment agency reported that 90% of applicants with an unusual or foreign name were ignored by his clients. But that is not news to applicants from that group. Their school, birthplace or addresses can prevent the application going further. I do not have to tell noble Lords why. If they are lucky to land a job, what then? They will invariably earn less than their white counterparts and that is a repetitive and recurring example.
TUC research earlier this year showed that black workers with a degree earned 23% less on average than their white counterparts. Black workers with A-levels earned 14% less on average than their white counterparts, and black people who leave school with good GCSEs are typically paid 11% less than their white peers. Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said of the findings:
“This is not about education, but about the systemic disadvantages ethnic minority workers face in the UK … Even today race still plays a huge role in determining pay”.
In management, black employees also lose out. One in 10 people in the workplace is from a black or Asian background but only 13 hold a management position in the public or private sector. Black managers are mostly to be found in the middle tier of management where they are most vulnerable to reorganisation and outsourcing.
This debate invites the House to take note of the issues faced by black and minority people in the workplace. I have probably reminded this House before that when Bill Clinton became President he took a very long time to form his Administration, so much so that his chief of staff wanted a discussion about the delay. Having listened, Clinton sent a note back saying: “I want my Government to look like America”. That statement is also a test for our country. We have also failed. Neither our Parliament, our Government, nor our workplaces look remotely like the United Kingdom. As I speak, I can hear an imaginary conversation between the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister. I can just about hear the Prime Minister saying: “I want my Government to look like Eton”.
Sadly, despite the good will of the Minister, some of us see this debate as the long journey continuing from the past: lots of words, but very little action. As members of the ethnic-minority community, all we ask is fairness, never favours. However, we also ask the question: how do we remove the barriers to progress of ethnic minorities in the workplace? Although the reviews led by the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, and Sir John Parker are to be welcomed, the immediate challenge in the Motion before the House is not merely to take note but to take action. To deliver a tangible and practical agenda for progress, I strongly support the steps set out by the TUC on page 8 of the briefing notes supporting this debate. They reference some of the issues I have raised, as do the two reviews and the Government’s BME 2020 policy. I support the targets, the promises and the challenges wholeheartedly, but if Martin Luther King had a dream, I have a nightmare with the fear that I have been here before: lots of words; no action.
I began this speech by referring to the Race Relations Act which outlawed discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origin, and the Equality Act which legally protected people from discrimination in the workplace and wider society. Yet we still we have discrimination as an impediment to human dignity, when all we ask is the right to be equal. We are at something of a crossroads. We can engage practical equality or we can engage discrimination to the point where the effect on our nation, our children and our future will be sad, dangerous and disturbing. All we want is an opportunity to serve and the right to be like the rest of the United Kingdom.
My Lords, one of the top two issues in the forthcoming EU referendum is immigration. Sadly, it is immigration in a negative way. Four years ago, I was proud to lead a debate in this House entitled Minority Ethnic and Religious Communities: Cultural and Economic Contribution. There were 26 speakers in that debate.
I am proud to be the first Zoroastrian Parsee to sit in your Lordships’ House. Before I made my maiden speech, the first thing I did was read the maiden speech of the first Member of Parliament from an ethnic minority. Dadabhai Naoroji, a Liberal, entered the House of Commons in 1892, against all odds. In fact, the then Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, said that no British person would ever accept a black man as an MP. Just three years later, in 1895, the second Indian, Sir Mancherjee Bhownagree, a Conservative, was elected. The third—and the only one of the three Indians elected to the House of Commons before India’s independence—was Shapurji Saklatvala, or Comrade Sak, who was elected as a Communist with Labour support. All three were Zoroastrian Parsees—one a Liberal, one a Conservative and one Labour. I now sit, as a Zoroastrian Parsee, as an independent Cross-Bench Peer, squaring the circle. There was one ethnic minority Peer before India’s independence, and that was Lord Sinha.
When I came to this country for my higher education, as a 19 year-old in the early 1980s, I was told by my family and friends in India, “If you decide to stay on and work after your studies you will never get to the top. You will not be allowed to because, as a foreigner, there will be a glass ceiling”. I am sorry to say that, 35 years ago, they were absolutely right. In spite of what my noble friend Lord Adebowale said, I think that glass ceiling has been well and truly shattered. Minority ethnic and religious communities are now reaching the top in every field: sport, academia, the Civil Service and politics. Just look around this Chamber.
The day before I led that debate four years ago, we had a photograph taken on the steps of Westminster Hall to celebrate 25 years since the first four ethnic minority MPs were elected to the House of Commons in 1987. I was at Cambridge University at the time when one of them, Keith Vaz, was elected. Four years ago, there were 69 of us on those steps. Today, there are 92 ethnic minority MPs and Peers. We are making progress and I would go so far as to say that immigrants from all ethnic minorities and religions have been the making of the “Great” in Great Britain. They have been crucial to Britain’s success, contributing enormously to the economic and cultural life of Britain and enriching it in every way, often punching well above their weight.
The Asian community makes up 4% of the population of Britain yet contributes more than double that percentage to the economy, but the Government’s immigration policy has been affecting this country and our businesses. My own business, Cobra Beer, supplies over 98% of the curry restaurants—the so-called Indian restaurants—in this country. Well over two-thirds of them are actually owned and run by Bangladeshis, and the Bangladesh Caterers Association does tremendous work supporting them. Yet the Government do not listen and there is a skills shortage. We cannot bring in the chefs the industry needs because of the Immigration Rules, yet it is the nation’s favourite food. This industry has been an inspiration to me. It is made up of pioneering entrepreneurs who have come to this country as complete strangers, gone to every corner of Great Britain, to every high street, made friends, won customers and—most importantly—put back into their local communities.
I am often asked to express what Asian values are and I summarise them as the importance of hard work, family and education. Britain prides itself on being an open country and an open economy; a country that is secular, multicultural and plural, where all religions are allowed to be practised and where all races, communities and cultures exist side by side.
There is one word I do not like. We are not a “tolerant” nation. This diversity should not be tolerated but celebrated. We are renowned as a country with a sense of fairness where there is opportunity for all. That has allowed ethnic minorities to succeed and allowed this little country, with 1% of the world’s population, to be one of the five largest economies in the world.
I thank the Minister very much for initiating this debate. She spoke about integration. The Nobel laureate, and my friend, Professor Amartya Sen speaks about identity. He says that most of us have several identities, whether religious, ethnic, professional or national.
When I came to study here, my father, the late Lieutenant-General Bilimoria, said, “Son, you’re going to study abroad. You may stay in Britain, you may live in another part of the world, but wherever you live, integrate with the community you are in to the best of your ability, but never, ever, forget your roots”. I am proud to be a Zoroastrian Parsee. I am proud to be an Indian, I am proud to be an Asian in Britain and, most importantly, I am very, very proud to be British.
The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, speaking in this debate four years ago, said:
“We should be proud of Britain’s record in race and community relations”.
He mentioned the Race Relations Act 1965 and said:
“We have been at the forefront of legislative and other machinery to establish equality of opportunity for all our citizens with a strong emphasis on disability, gender, age, faith and sexual orientation”, but he said:
“We now need to move to the next stage. We need to examine changing patterns within all our communities. True multiculturalism is proactive and means that equality and diversity is at the core of everything we do, from government to individual responsibility. We need to take a much more pro-active stance towards combating racism and discrimination, really tackling inequality in all aspects of our society in social and economic matters and in civic participation, positively valuing—not merely tolerating—the contribution of different cultures and perspectives, and treating them with respect”.—[Official Report, 24/5/12; col. 873.]
Those are very wise words.
The noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, pointed out in that debate:
“We should not forget that some 44,000 out of 240,000 registered doctors in the United Kingdom declare themselves Asian or British Asian”.—[Official Report, 24/5/12; col. 879.]
That is nearly 20%. Where would we be without them? The noble Lord, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, said that,
“if you glance at the list of speakers, you will see that there are speakers not just from some defined minority communities but from all communities. That is what Britain represents today”.—[
He said that the strength of our diversity is visible and relevant. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, said it was a time,
“for celebrating our nation’s diversity—the whole world in one country. It is an important moment to insist that along with respect for difference and minorities must come a commitment by us all to do all we can, using all our energy, to promote the unity, democracy, freedom and justice that we treasure in this nation”.—[
One in seven companies are started by ethnic minority immigrant entrepreneurs, yet I faced prejudice 26 years ago when I started Cobra Beer. I would go to see buyers for big supermarket chains and big customers and they would say, “Indian beer?”, and turn their noses up at it. Well, I have got my own back. Cobra Beer has won 83 gold medals in the Monde Selection world quality awards. It is one of the beers with the most awards in the world and is a top 20 brand over here—so much for their prejudice.
The Minister and I served together when I was the founding chairman of the UK India Business Council. She spoke about the new report which Sajid Javid—I can call him my friend as he is my neighbour—the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has commissioned. I wish the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, all the best with it and welcome her to our House. There are lots of objectives in the report. One is to increase the number of BME students going to university by 20%. I am proud to be the first Indian chancellor of a Russell Group university, the University of Birmingham. However, I am the first; how many other ethnic minority chancellors are there? How many ethnic minority vice-chancellors are there in this country?
We talk about getting more ethnic minority students. Is the Minister aware of a programme called GEEMA? It is the Group to Encourage Ethnic Minority Applications and is for year 11 schoolchildren. It has a summer school at the University of Cambridge, and I addressed the opening course. I was inspired because it turned out that they were ethnic minority children whose families had never been to university. Many of them ended up getting into the University of Cambridge and other universities.
As the Minister said, there is an employment gap. It is a gap of more than 11% between BME people and the rest of the population. Two-thirds of FTSE 100 companies still have an all-white executive leadership. This is appalling. The research found that 10 people from ethnic and cultural minorities hold the top posts of chairman, chief executive or finance director, which is equivalent to 3.5% of the 289 jobs at that level, and 98% of FTSE 100 chairs, 96% of FTSE 100 chief executives and 95% of FTSE 100 CFOs are white. We have made progress, but there is so much more to be done. Thirteen per cent of the UK population is from an ethnic minority background, yet in Parliament we have almost 100 BME Members, which is still nowhere near 13% of the 650 Members of the House of Commons and more than 800 Members of this House. There is only one BME Cabinet Minister, my friend Sajid Javid. The first minority ethnic Minister was Lord Sinha, whom I mentioned earlier.
We talk about international comparisons. The noble Lord, Lord Morris, mentioned them. The US House of Representatives has 435 Members, of whom 20% are non-white, but only 6% of the 100 Senators are minority ethnic, so we are doing much better than the Americans, let alone on diversity because more than 50% of them are lawyers.
In the public sector, only 7% of the UK’s Armed Forces are ethnic minority, and less than 3% of officers, yet without the contribution of nearly 5 million people from India, south Asia, the Caribbean and Africa in First World War and the Second World War, we would not be here in the free world we have today. Of Premier League footballers, 25% are ethnic minority. That is the one area where we are ahead of the average.
Before I conclude, we have to talk about boards. I founded the Zoroastrian All-Party Parliamentary Group, which had an event called Faith-based Ethics in Business—the Cadbury and Tata Way. Tata Steel is now in the spotlight, but people forget the net employment that Tata has created through the success of Jaguar Land Rover and the enormous charitable work that it does. David Landsman, head of Tata Ltd in the UK, said that there is a clause in the Tata code of conduct about equality and non-discrimination on any grounds.
In 2003, I was a member of the Tyson task force on the recruitment and development of non-executive directors. The noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, spoke about diverse teams. That task force, 13 years ago, said very clearly said in its summary:
“Diversity in the backgrounds, skills, and experiences of NEDS enhances board effectiveness by bringing a wider range of perspectives and knowledge to bear on issues of company performance, strategy and risk”.
It is indisputable that broader, more rigorous and more transparent searching is needed to get there, yet this amazing lack of diversity exists at the moment. I have been the only ethnic minority member of the board of Booker, a FTSE 250 company—it is around number 125 at the moment—and the senior independent director for the past eight and half years. We have had two women on our board.
Success is not a destination, it is a journey. I have shown the huge lack of diversity that exists and the reason this report needs to be commissioned. Yet I have also shown how far we have come in the 35 years since I came here as a student. I am proud to say that London is the most diverse, vibrant, multicultural and cosmopolitan city in the world, but we need to continue to aspire and to achieve. As the Prime Minister said, and as I have said many times, there will be Asian Prime Minister of this country soon.
My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on this timely debate. I also congratulate my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith and wish her well in her important review. I am no expert in this field, but I have some knowledge of issues faced in the workplace by some practising members of the Jewish community. In her opening remarks the Minister spoke about English being spoken, or perhaps not being spoken by far too many people. It reminded me of visits to absorption centres—they sound like difficult places, but they are exactly the opposite—in Israel. When people immigrate to Israel, the first six to nine months are spent at an absorption centre where they are taught how to queue at a bank and how to go to the post office but, most importantly, they learn to speak Hebrew and are immersed in speaking Hebrew. That is something that we in this country have lost. When immigrants come into this country we should immerse them in speaking English.
I recall being on a candidates weekend to go on a list of prospective candidates for the party back in 1993. My sponsors suggested that I should not have to do a weekend. Let me explain. I am an Orthodox Jew; I do not travel on the Sabbath. In February, in the winter, the Sabbath comes in very early. I arrived with 48 other people and was told that we had a 1,000-word piece of writing to do. I looked at my watch and I realised that I had 23 minutes before the Sabbath came in to do my 1,000 words. I remember, too, that there was a mock debate on the Saturday morning. Everyone was taking notes except me; I was not allowed to take notes because it was my Sabbath. I got through the weekend, but this debate reminded me of the difficulties that one can sometimes have.
The British Jewish community, via the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has produced The Employer’s Guide to Judaism. It was produced in the belief that education is the best way to combat prejudice. The introduction talks of that problem that, for the “fully observant Jew”, Jewish law provides a “central model” for how to lead life. The guide states:
“This means that it is not possible for the observant Jew simply to waive, for example, observance of the Sabbath”, as I described in my experience from 1993. It continues:
“However, in most cases reasonable adjustments”, can be made and there can be,
“no conflict between being a fully observant Jew and a fully contributing member of the workforce … Many jobs require set working hours and this can cause a clash with the Sabbath”, or the Jewish festivals.
The pamphlet has a headline “Jewish practices” and it goes on to explain them. It then has a section on the distribution of Jewish festivals around the calendar year. In my previous work in the 1980s, when I was education director of the Board of Deputies, I spent most of my time working with examination boards. In the May/June time there is a Jewish festival called Shavuot; it is two days for Orthodox Jews. Again, it is a time when people cannot write or travel. I spent time with all the examination boards talking about the problem of Jewish students doing GCSEs or A-levels when they fell on Shavuot. By the time I had finished my work, three examination boards—I think there were five at the time—did not have any exams on Shavuot at all. That is because we talked to them well in advance—years in advance.
The pamphlet carries on with “clothing and modesty”, “food”, “prayer”, “bereavement” and “UK law”. It ends with “additional human resources guidance” and it talks about the recruitment process. It says:
“It is imperative that discrimination does not occur at any point during the employment process, including during the interview before employment, or during the notice period at the end of employment. Employers must not discriminate against a Jewish candidate on the basis of their religion or religious requirements”.
One can insert any religious grouping instead of “Jewish” at this point. It continues:
“Employers should not ask personal questions, including those relating to religious affiliation, unless they are directly relevant”.
It goes on to talk about the “employee already in employment” and “conflict resolution”. This I found most interesting. It states:
“Managing time off for religious observance, in particular the festivals, can cause a problem in professions where it is expected that annual leave will be taken at certain periods of the year, most notably in schools and universities. There are practical solutions that can be used in solving this, including running extracurricular activities or trips to compensate for the time lost, scheduling lessons”.
But the key is that the information is given early.
The last point is on anti-Semitic discrimination in the workplace. This is a rather topical issue. The Community Security Trust reported that, in 2015, 26 anti-Semitic incidents took place in the workplace. That is 26 too many. The pamphlet says:
“Antisemitic discrimination can occur in the workplace in several contexts, including in the recruitment or promotion processes, in interactions between colleagues and from external sources, especially in roles involving interaction with customers. Whilst these instances cannot always be avoided completely, it is good practice for employers to supply adequate training to their staff on Judaism”.
I could add here “adequate training to their staff on Hinduism”, or on Islam.
Through education and information, some of the issues that I have raised can be dealt with. I recommend that my noble friends the Minister and Lady McGregor-Smith take a look at this guide. It may be helpful for other communities in Britain. Widespread distribution to the public and private sectors could be an extra piece of ammunition in ensuring diversity in the workplace.
My Lords, I begin by congratulating the Minister on introducing the debate. I remember sponsoring a similar debate in this House about 12 to 13 years ago. I was struck by the fact that almost all the speakers came from the Lib Dem and Labour Benches, with hardly anyone from the Conservative side. The shadow Minister was the only one. In his sovereign loneliness he struck us as rather a strange figure. Today the Minister has not only spoken about the subject but initiated it. That says something about the kind of progress that we have made in this country. I compliment her in particular on speaking with such eloquence on some of the issues relating to the subject.
While we have made some progress, we still have a long way to go, as many noble Lords said. I will talk about those issues. I have been used to using the words “ethnic minorities” rather than the words “black and minority ethnic”, which are strange. I will continue to talk about ethnic minorities. According to the census of 2011, ethnic minorities constitute 19.5% of the population. However, they disproportionately bear the impact of unemployment. The rate of unemployment among them is not only higher; they are also most vulnerable to losing their jobs. The unemployment rate among the ethnic minorities is not evenly spread. Among the Indians it tends to be roughly the same as within the white population, but among the Afro-Caribbeans and others it is as high as 14% to 15%—three times the national average.
Degrees or higher qualifications do not seem to help. In fact, those with higher qualifications are two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts. It is also striking that, for the same job, a black person applying would need higher qualifications than his white counterpart. This is what social scientists call the “ethnic penalty”: the same qualification does not take you to the same destination. In the case of ethnic minorities, a higher qualification is required.
If one looks at the FTSE index, the picture is even more disturbing. If one takes 100 companies, 98% of the chairs, 96% of the CEOs and 95% of the chief financial officers are white. If one looks at the Civil Service, again, the situation is not terribly good. Ethnic Dimension, a research consultancy, pointed out in 2014 what is wrong and at what stages ethnic minorities are to be found. It is quite striking, for example, that if one looks at the Civil Service and the various stages at which ethnic minorities operate, they are disproportionately represented on the lower rungs of the Civil Service hierarchy and very poorly represented among the Permanent Secretaries and others. If one looks at representation among the higher echelons of the diplomatic service, it is striking that the proportion is even smaller. If one looks at health trusts or the royal colleges, as many have pointed out, ethnic minority representation is extremely poor.
All this needs no elaboration except to show how much work remains to be done. It is this that I want to concentrate on during the five or six more minutes I have at my disposal. The Runnymede Trust’s Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, which I was privileged to chair and whose report was wrongly named after me, proposed a number of initiatives and I want to reiterate some of them and to elaborate on a few others which have come up since. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, when she undertakes her review, will look at the positive side of what can be done, what obstacles stand in the way of ethnic minorities and what we need to do to remove those obstacles. So, at the risk of sounding rather schematic, let me run through six or seven recommendations that we made and that I would like to make again.
First, it is very important that every organisation, every company and every business should be required to have a race equality strategy with specific targets but not quotas, aspirational goals but not a legal requirement of jobs to fill. Secondly, there is the old idea of contract compliance. It is very important that public sector contracts should be used to improve a company’s race equality practice. Thirdly, application forms should be anonymised. This should be standard practice in all areas of life, so that people are not singled out as representing a particular ethnic group by virtue of their name. Fourthly, recruitment procedures in organisations and various companies should be clearly monitored, so that there is no room for self-selection or only choosing people of one’s own colour.
It is also important that companies should be asked to submit, in their annual reports, staff ethnicity figures—what percentages belong to ethnic minorities, at what stage of the company hierarchy and in what forms. It is also very important that more ethnic minorities should be recruited in the field of higher education. Here, I certainly appreciate the Prime Minister’s desire to increase by 20% the proportion of ethnic minority students by 2020—but, as one of the Peers said, this is a big challenge and I do not think that it is likely to happen. Also, if we do bring them into higher education, the question is what areas of higher education and what kinds of jobs will be available to them.
It is also important that racial stereotyping should be avoided. It is very striking, in the briefing material given to us, that Afro-Caribbeans, for example, are singled out as sportsmen or entertainers but you can hardly see a black face as a senior professor, a researcher or a poet. One can easily begin to see what kind of images and impressions this creates in the minds of those who read such things. Finally, race has in some ways shifted its locus, so that we no longer talk simply about colour or culture, we also talk about religion. Muslims have, in many cases, become the target for this kind of discrimination and disadvantage. A recent survey, for example, showed that a Muslim name can invite discrimination, but that if the person was not wearing Muslim dress, such as a headscarf or whatever, he tended to escape any kind of disadvantage—dress becomes a site of contestation, a sign by which we recognise and identify people and discriminate against them. For all these reasons, I suggest not only that applications should be anonymised but as far as possible that discrimination and disadvantage of this kind should be eliminated.
These are some of the points also made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, and I commend them all yet again.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the Government for making time for this important debate today. This issue is not a minority one. It concerns who we all are today in modern Britain. Whatever one’s view on immigration or Europe might be, Britain has changed and will continue to do so. If this change is embraced and not just endured, Britain will be all the stronger. Of the UK’s population of 63 million, 14% are black and ethnic minority. Over half of the BME communities live in three main cities—London, Manchester and Birmingham. Leicester is seen as one of the most diverse cities in Europe, and what a magnificent example of diversity in the workplace is Leicester City Football Club. Its first team squad has 12 different nationalities and an Afro-Caribbean captain and last night became Premier League champions. Mind you, since I support Aston Villa, recently relegated from the Premier League, I wish to move swiftly on from that observation.
We are all products of our experiences and I was just reflecting on some of mine. Back in 1990 I was a special adviser to the Home Secretary, and the Cheltenham Conservative Association was advertising for a parliamentary candidate to fight the next general election: this was an application for a job to be an MP in the political workplace. I submitted my CV along with 300 others. In those days, you did not have to submit a photograph with your application. My surname is Taylor. Taylor is, in fact, the name of the Bristolian sugar trader who owned the slave plantation that my ancestors worked on, so the name does not sound foreign. When I was shortlisted a few weeks later, I travelled to Cheltenham for the interview.
I was greeted at the front door by one of the committee members. The elderly gentleman looked rather startled to see me. When I introduced myself, he said, “Oh, you’re John Taylor—I didn’t realise you were b-b-based in Birmingham. Welcome”. I must admit I rather admired the nifty way he side-stepped a potentially embarrassing situation. I was eventually chosen as the candidate and the association treated me well, but I have often wondered whether, in those days, had the fact that I am Afro-Caribbean been known to the committee at the application stage, or had I a foreign-sounding name, I would even have been interviewed.
It is not only good for minorities to achieve in the workplace, it is good for the nation as a whole. Historically, there has been a negative perception issue acting as a bar to the workplace becoming more diverse. Some years ago I was invited to be a speaker at the Institute of Directors on the subject of diversity. I walked into the entrance hall in Pall Mall and said to the concierge doorman, “Lord Taylor of Warwick”. He said, “Ah, yes, we are expecting Lord Taylor. You timed it well. You the driver, mate? You’ll be okay on a single yellow line. Anything after 6.30 pm is fine”. I replied, “No, I’m Lord Taylor”. There was a famous hit song called “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum. Maybe they had this gentleman in mind when they wrote it, because he turned from white to very, very pale. I would like to think that nowadays that misunderstanding would not occur.
Unemployment in the black and ethnic minority community is going down, I accept that, but there is still so much untapped potential there. I have a particular interest in the black majority churches. Take, for example, the Nigerian Redeemed Christian Church of God, based here in the UK. In the five years to 2013, it started 296 new churches in the UK. Last year, the Prime Minister addressed an event of black Christians from that church, which thousands attended. I was a guest speaker at the equivalent event in Lagos, Nigeria, where a quarter of a million people attended the national stadium. The event started in Lagos at 8 pm and finished at 6 am the next morning, so it is vivid in my memory. But these people, like many, are transnational in their activities and contacts, and there are similar groups, of course, among the Muslim and Chinese communities in Britain. The point I wish to make here is that surely our local enterprise partnerships need to develop stronger working links with such diaspora groups, their religious leaders and business concerns. We need to harness that potential, which I think is being wasted.
The media and creative industries are very influential sectors of society, perhaps even more so than politicians. It is a pity that black actors such as Idris Elba and David Harewood had to go to America to establish themselves in the industry. Frankly, that is a disgrace. While television is using more black and Asian presenters, Directors UK claims that the number of BME directors working in UK TV is “critically low”. A sample of 55,000 programmes found that only 1.29% were made by black, Asian and minority ethnic directors. In some areas such as period dramas, talk shows, panel shows and sketch shows, not a single episode had been made by a BME director. That, frankly, is a disgrace. In the mid-1990s, I was a television producer at BBC White City. It got to the stage when I asked whether it was called White City because everyone else above kitchen level was white.
I recall making a TV consumer affairs series for BBC Two called “The Street”. I had the pleasure of working with Kirsty Young, who went on to much fame and fortune. We went up to the highlands of Scotland to make one episode. I did not think that there were any black people at all there. But while we were doing some outside filming, a young white lady came out with a mixed race boy of about 10 holding her hand. She came straight over to me and said, “My son was watching you from inside. He wanted to come and see you. His dad is African, but he left before the boy was even born. My boy’s had a rough time at school because of his colour. He is shy, but it would mean a lot to him if you would just talk to him for a few minutes”. The boy proceeded to ask me if I was his father. I quickly assured him that although I was not his father, I would be proud to have a son like him. I explained that I was at the BBC and we were filming in his street. He then said, “But I thought you had to be white to work on the telly”. Although inaccurate, that was his perception, and it was a very sad comment that I will never forget.
As for newspapers, Amol Rajan is the only ethnic minority editor of a national newspaper, the Independent. I note recently that even that paper has now gone online. City University’s survey in March this year found that British journalism as a whole is 94% white. Is that acceptable?
Our corporate boards are making progress in terms of gender diversity, but there is a lack of racial diversity on company boards. In fact over the last two years, the growth of BMEs on boards of FTSE 100 companies has slowed and gone backwards, going from a 0.7% growth rate to a meagre 0.1% from 2015 to 2016.
For 10 years, I was vice-president and on the board of the British Board of Film Classification. Although it treated me very well, it was a very white organisation when I first joined. If I achieved anything there, at least I encouraged it to place job opportunities at the BBFC in not only the mainstream papers but also the ethnic minority newspapers such as the Voice and the New Nation.
The sporting world has great success stories such as Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and a very diverse professional soccer league. However, let us not kid ourselves—in soccer the diversity is only on the pitch. Around 30% of players in the Football League are from BME backgrounds, mostly black, but there are hardly any people of colour in the football boardrooms. Of the 92 managers in the Premier and Football League divisions, just six are non-white. This is not acceptable. In America, there is the Rooney Rule. This was led by Dan Rooney, a football club owner, who helped create a rule in the US whereby at least one non-white candidate must be interviewed when a manager’s job is vacant. Maybe it is time to look at this here.
We are celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s life. A couple of years ago, I had the awesome privilege of playing the role of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, at London’s delightful Tudor Rose playhouse theatre. It was refreshing to me that no one questioned that such a role could be depicted by a black actor. When my parents came to Britain in the 1950s, there were signs in the windows, stating, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”. We have clearly come a long way since then. But for BME minorities in the workplace, there are still many barriers to break. Will Britain ever achieve real racial equality in the workplace? To quote Hamlet,
“To be, or not to be: that is the question”.
My Lords, we are very lucky to live in such a diverse, multiracial and multicultural society. The variety of ethnicities, cultures and religions that comprise the British people make our country richer, more interesting and ultimately more successful. They benefit us socially, culturally and economically. The Office for National Statistics estimated last year that around 13% of our population are now from an ethnic minority background. This is a significant minority and as such it is important to consider the challenges they may face.
Since coming here from Uganda, I have generally found the United Kingdom to be an open, warm and welcoming country. This country is a land of opportunity and if one is prepared to use one’s initiative and work hard, one will do well and the sky is the limit in regard to advancement.
I would now like to talk briefly about myself. I was originally trained by a leading insurance company and obtained my qualifications in insurance and financial services. After my fellowship, I was involved in academic work and subsequently joined an organisation as a manager. I then became the chief executive and majority shareholder of this organisation. This company won 13 major insurance awards over a period of three years, an achievement which has not been equalled by any other organisation. Today, I am chairman of three companies. I have been a president of the Chartered Insurance Institute and chairman of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association. I was the first foreigner to hold these positions.
Ultimately, I had the honour of being made a Member of your Lordships’ House, as the first Muslim Peer from my party. I say this for a certain reason—to emphasise that I have personally not been subjected to any racial or religious prejudice. However, I am not at all complacent and emphasise that there are various challenges and issues facing people from BME backgrounds. I am actively involved in mentoring the BME community to achieve success in business. I have long encouraged members of the BME community to become involved in politics as well as in professional institutions. Furthermore, I encourage the community to enter the Armed Forces as well as the police. Unfortunately, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in most professions. This is particularly true at senior management levels. There are in fact only four non-white executives of FTSE 100 companies. One in 10 employed people comes from a BME background, yet only one in 16 top management positions and one in 13 management positions are held by people from ethnic backgrounds. According to analysis by the TUC, BME workers with degrees are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates. The unemployment rate for white workers with degrees is 2.3% but this rises to 5.9% for BME workers.
Discrimination in the workplace occurs in many different sectors and professions. A 2014 report found that while the NHS in England is the largest employer of BME staff, with one in six NHS staff being from the community, BME staff in the NHS are discriminated against in several ways. For example, BME staff are grossly underrepresented at senior levels in the NHS, and their presence in these roles has declined despite the increasing number of BME nurses and doctors.
A report published last year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that unemployment in the United Kingdom in 2013 displayed a significant disparity by ethnicity: while nearly 75% of white people were employed, only 59% from ethnic minorities were. The employment rate in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities is particularly low. In 2015 the employment rate was 55%. That is, however, an increase since 2005, when it stood at 42%. For those in work, ethnic minority employees can still face workplace bias. In one year alone, 30% of BME workers witnessed or experienced racial harassment in the workplace. It should be noted that there is another issue: gender. Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are less than half as likely to be employed as other women. This is partly cultural but it can be improved by better education and by improving economic conditions in deprived areas.
We also need to consider the ethnicity pay gap. Recent analysis by the ONS Labour Force Survey found that ethnic minority employees educated to degree level face a 10% deficit in pay. This rises to 17% for those who leave education at 18. I applaud the Government’s drive to close the gender pay gap—perhaps a similar initiative could be considered to address ethnic differences.
I am an office holder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Armed Forces and regularly meet senior officers from all three services, including those from ethnic minorities. I have been assured at very senior level that service men and women are appointed and promoted purely on merit, which is very encouraging. However, we need to make every effort to recruit, retain and promote officers from the BME communities.
It occurs to me that part of the challenge may be to promote greater awareness of these cultures and the values to which they adhere. If others are more knowledgeable, perhaps there will be less ignorance and misunderstanding. Of course, it is also imperative that we take positive steps to attain integration of the various communities. We must all work together to achieve better integration, which will result in better employment prospects for the BME communities.
Indeed, research has shown that companies with diverse workforces perform significantly better. The global consultancy firm McKinsey & Company reported last year that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to produce above-average financial returns. It is also suggested that more diverse companies are better able to secure top talent, improve their customer orientation and increase levels of employee satisfaction and morale. I believe that companies gain through learning from each other’s experiences. People from different backgrounds see things from different perspectives and therefore can bring new and fresh ideas with them.
I am disturbed by the high number of Muslims convicted of criminal offences other than terrorist activity. They are in prison and not working. I used to be the chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum and am now its president. We briefly looked at this issue but I feel we need to undertake an in-depth study of the patterns of offending and reoffending relating to Muslims. We can then perhaps look at the remedies. I ask my noble friend the Minister to comment on this issue and perhaps say whether the Government would support such a study.
It is important to note that legislation already exists to protect people from discrimination in the workplace. The Equality Act 2010 contains provisions on treatment with regard to race and ethnicity, as well as religion and other characteristics. Therefore, protection already exists with regard to these issues. However, we need to look more closely at how to address some of the wider, more implicit, often unintended forms of prejudice.
Thankfully, the Government are taking some action. I pay tribute to the Business Secretary Sajid Javid for asking my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith to lead a review looking at the issues faced by businesses in developing BME talent. This forms part of the Government’s BME 2020 plan, which is aimed at improving labour market conditions for those from ethnic minority backgrounds. We have already heard about this review in detail from my noble friends the Minister and Lady McGregor-Smith. I wish my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith success in her review and hope that, through the BME 2020 plan, the Government will be able to tackle the issue of workplace discrimination once and for all.
We enjoy great peace and harmony between cultures and religions in the United Kingdom. This country has successfully assimilated many people from abroad who have contributed to the advancement and well-being of this nation. I hope we can continue to identify issues relating to the BME population and ensure fair treatment for those from ethnic minority groups. We must encourage people from those cultures who have come to the United Kingdom to stay here, to make it their home and to help grow our economy further.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for providing us with an opportunity to consider such an important subject ahead of the forthcoming review by the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith. The announcement of the review into the progression of black and minority ethnic people in the labour market, and the noble Baroness’s leadership of it, has been widely welcomed, and I found her insights today both fascinating and challenging.
As the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, has highlighted, we have some idea of the scale of the problem facing those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds when looking for work. One in eight of our working age population is from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, yet only one in 10 is in the workplace. While the ONS figures released in April show that more people from ethnic minority backgrounds are in work since records began 15 years ago, their annual employment rate of 62.7% is almost 13 percentage points lower than the white employment rate of 75.4%.
Analysis of the ONS figures by the TUC gives us a fuller picture. The TUC says that at every level of education, jobless rates are much higher for black, Asian and minority ethnic workers. BAME workers with degrees are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates. Those with A-level equivalents, including trade apprenticeships and vocational work, are more than three times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts, while BAME workers with GCSE equivalents and basic-level qualifications are more than twice as likely to be out of work. This is the harsh reality we face. As the TUC’s General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, has said, this is not only wrong, it is a huge waste of talent. Companies that recruit from only a narrow base are missing out on the wide range of experiences on offer from Britain’s many different communities.
Once in the workplace, there are data showing that people with a BME background face systemic disadvantages including lack of promotion, lack of role models and lower levels of pay. The TUC’s figures show that black workers with degrees are paid nearly a quarter less than their white peers—the equivalent of £4.33 an hour. Those with A-levels earn 14.3% less on average than their white counterparts, and black people who leave school with GCSEs typically get paid 11.4% less than their white peers. The pay gap between white graduates and all black, Asian and minority ethnic workers with degrees is 10.3%, the equivalent of £1.93 an hour. The pay gap with white workers for all groups, regardless of their educational attainment, is 5.6% for BAME workers and 12.8% for black workers.
Then there is the lack of promotion and lack of role models. The thought-provoking Race for Opportunity report, Race at Work 2015, published last November, tells us that while one in 10 employed people comes from a BME background, only one in 13 management positions and one in 16 top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person. As the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, said, the media interest in her appointment as a CEO of a FTSE 200 company spoke volumes about its novelty.
The same report showed that BAME employees are less satisfied with their experiences of management and progression than white employees. Interest in taking part in a fast-track programme was significantly higher among BAME groups, jumping from 18% of white employees who would take part to 40% of BAME employees. Yet only 8% of BAME employees have been on fast-track programmes. The survey also revealed that 30% of BAME employees feel they have been overlooked for promotion, compared with 23% of white employees, and that British people with a BAME background are less likely to be rated as top performers compared with their white counterparts.
In the Civil Service, barriers to the progression of talented BME staff are seen as: a demoralising lack of BME role models; a lack of diversity in leadership; and unconscious bias and discrimination, leading to a lack of equal access to projects, promotions and secondments. One outcome has been Permanent Secretaries having specific responsibility for delivering measurable diversity outcomes.
I know we can all agree that employers need to reach the widest possible talent pool, and that companies can only benefit from creating a diverse workforce who reflect the clients, customers and communities they serve. It is entirely obvious that we must capitalise on the skills and talents of every individual in the workplace, regardless of their background. The question is, of course, how best to do that. As other noble Lords have noted, the Government’s ambitious 2020 plan is aimed at improving labour market outcomes for those from BME backgrounds. Its targets include increasing apprenticeship take-ups and university student numbers by 20% by 2020, awarding 20,000 start-up loans by 2020 and increasing BME employment by 20% by 2020.
I support those aims and believe in the power of targets to focus minds and provide impetus. Where the pace of change is slow, target setting can increase its speed, but I cannot help but feel that this 2020 vision has a headline-grabbing neatness which invites charges of tokenism. Targets can only be milestones on a longer journey. When we come to tackling issues facing BME people in the workplace, I hope we will be able to consider the wide range of options offered so powerfully by speakers in this debate, including my noble friends Lady Howells, Lord Morris and Lord Parekh.
Data are a powerful agent for change. Will the Minister take on board the recommendations by the TUC, Race for Opportunity and others that the Government should encourage employers to monitor the progress of BME candidates in recruitment and progression processes and should work with employers to improve the transparency of career progression? Does the Minister agree that to help make this happen, what is needed are “diversity champions”—senior roles within companies responsible for all aspects of diversity and inclusion? There is a strong view that every chief executive officer should be a diversity champion, because real culture change comes from the top. Yet according to a Business in the Community survey, one-third of all employees say their organisation does not have a senior leader who actively promotes equality and diversity in their workplace.
Leadership is of course key to tackling unfairness and discrimination in the workplace. It is vital that the leadership pipeline has sufficient BME talent to ensure that the senior management of the future reflects an increasingly diverse working population. In this respect, I am encouraged by the success of Women on Boards, the business-led initiative steered by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Abersoch, to tackle the issue of low representation of women on FTSE boards. As the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, mentioned, in five years the representation of women has more than doubled: it now stands at 26.1% on FTSE 100 boards and 19.6% on FTSE 200 boards. There are no longer any all-male boards among FTSE 100 companies. The noble Lord rightly called this a,
“profound culture change at the heart of British business”.
When the Women on Boards report was published last October, the vice-chairman of KPMG, Melanie Richards, said:
“In order to remain relevant to our clients and communities, we need leaders who come from a wide range of backgrounds, each bringing different skills and views to the table, creating boardrooms that truly mirror our society. Without these different outlooks and diversity of skills and experiences, our businesses will simply not thrive in this fast-paced changing competitive world”.
I agree with her. What is true for the boardroom in this respect is surely also true for the workplace. The noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, has taken on a formidable challenge that is hugely important to the social and economic success of our country. I wish her well and look forward to the outcomes of her review.
My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for introducing this very timely debate. I also commend the Government for instigating the review which is to be led by the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, who spoke very eloquently about her own background and experience.
I come to the debate feeling somewhat as if we have been here before. I did not put this in my report, but I have just remembered while sitting here that back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in another life, I was a race equality officer. I could not have imagined, all these years later, that we would still be debating some of the issues that were very apparent at the time. The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, may remember Section 11 of the Race Relations Act—I think he might have referred to it. This demonstrates how we need to return to the principle of what we mean by race equality and that we must prioritise it, as it has somewhat slipped over the years. We thought we were probably doing quite well but we took our eye off the ball, so we have slipped right back. As other noble Lords have mentioned, great progress has been made on gender equality and in other areas, but we have very much taken our eye off the ball on this issue.
I, too, am a supporter of targets. I know many people are not and that there are many in my party and other parties who generally think targets are discriminatory in some way. However, they focus the mind and measure progress. Eventually, as in other areas, they can be set aside once progress has been made and equality has been achieved.
I want first to address BAME staff, management and board representation in the NHS. It is the largest employer in the country and the largest employer of people from black and minority-ethnic communities. It employs 1.4 million people, a very large number of whom are from BAME backgrounds. On
“My Lords, it is outrageous that we have so few people from BME backgrounds in senior management and on NHS boards. We need to take action to improve the experiences of BME staff and their representation”.
He went on to give the House a few figures: some 22% of all staff in the NHS are from a BME or minority ethnic background, 28% of doctors and 40% of hospital doctors. Yet only 3% of medical directors are from BME backgrounds and 7% are in senior management roles. We have two chief executives and six chairmen from BME backgrounds out of 250 trusts. He said:
“So the performance across the NHS is … absolutely terrible and we have to take some serious action to change it”. —[Official Report, 24/2/16; 263-4.]
I was shocked by that: I knew it was bad, but I had not realised how bad, and how we have slipped back. Although the Minister should be commended for his approach and frankness on the issue, a 2015 survey of national bodies such as NHS Executive Search, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, whose boards are all subject to ministerial appointment, showed that none of their boards—at the time; I do not know if it has changed since—had any BME representation. The Minister was asked, as those appointments are in the gift of the Government, could they not take more action and lead by example? The Minister may not have the answer today, and I will be quite happy if she comes back to me on it, but is that still the case and what is being done to address that appalling deficit?
The NHS Equality and Diversity Council announced in 2014 that it had agreed to take action to ensure that employees from black and minority ethnic backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace, so there has been an enormous amount of work in the interim. The extensive evidence of the benefits of diversity for innovation in leadership teams, which has been mentioned across the House today, is overwhelming. The case has been made. For the first time, the NHS has been required to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low levels of BME board representation. Despite this, as I mentioned, little progress has been made.
In The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS Executive Search Agencies, Roger Kline, a research fellow at Middlesex University, states that one of the known, visible aspects of conscious bias is the processes and practices used to recruit, develop and retain talent. In recruitment in particular, he points out, the lack of ethnic minority specialists operating in the executive search field, in the agencies who work with the NHS, has resulted in the “same sort of people” recruiting in their own image,
“with recruitment heavily influenced by candidate confidence as much as competence and by networks”.
The noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, mentioned that networks are far more important in securing senior management and board positions than knowledge and experience. If you are from a BME background and do not have extensive networks, you will not necessarily be successful when you apply to those boards. I say that with the caveat that there are of course some notable exceptions in the recruitment field—companies and organisations that are making great strides and trying very hard to address this issue.
In other words, there is continual fishing in the same, increasingly small pool. All the recruitment consultants seem to be fishing from a very narrow pool of candidates. I do not know whether the figures are available, but when we see an increase in women’s representation, I wonder how many of the same women are sitting on different boards. That is an issue as well. There is a lot of duplication—these are not unique numbers. You see board members on websites, and they seem to have an awful lot of other roles as well. That is another issue—that people go to the same people again.
Roger Kline mentions how change would,
“require trust and national level succession planning for executives—and the use of NHS Executive Search to provide candidate shortlists before trusts are allowed to consider”, somebody outside over headhunters, who may not always look for diversity. So for the NHS as a whole, it seems much less likely that BME staff will be appointed from shortlisting than white staff will be. The absence or exclusion appears largely to be caused by discrimination in career support and the appointment process. The evidence is overwhelming that it takes much longer for BME staff to get promoted. I have heard of many instances of competent and long-serving BME staff leaving altogether after losing confidence and feeling completely demoralised over having any chance of career progression. What a waste of talent that is—all that experience going to waste.
Roger Kline also highlights in The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS Executive how:
“Large parts of the NHS still pay lip service to challenging discrimination in leadership and unlocking talent of women, BME and disabled people”.
Racism and discrimination against staff is a big factor—we have to talk about it. I hear what the noble Baroness, Lady Bottomley, said: that there is a fear of talking about it. But we have to talk about it, because we have to tackle it. It is a reality. According to the figures I have seen in one study, there has been a 65% increase in reported racist verbal and physical attacks against staff by patients in the five years up to 2013. According to recent figures, disappointingly, some hospital management actually collude and acquiesce. For example, in a case where a family said that they did not want their child treated by a black doctor, they gave in; these things are taking place. They may be going on beneath the radar, but they are happening—they are the reality.
The proportion of staff receiving well-structured appraisal support is also related to patient satisfaction, patient mortality, staff absenteeism and turnover, and a better performance on the annual health check. Working in well-structured teams helps to address staff absenteeism and turnover, as well as the annual health check performance, which is very important. Crucially, it is a factor in overall satisfaction in a hospital trust. Training and development is also a very important predictor. The more that employees receive training, learning and development that is relevant for the job and career progression, the better the outcomes. By giving staff clear direction and good support, treating them fairly and supportively, leaders create positive cultures of engagement, whereby dedicated NHS staff in turn can give their best in caring for patients.
Addressing the problems that many BME staff face will require a number of initiatives, but we need a multi-faceted approach and a complete rethink of senior leadership recruitment in terms of period of office and talent management. Much research points to what is required—dramatically widening the pool of talent and reminding these organisations that they are not a law unto themselves but public servants appointed to carry out a specific role for the benefit of patients, and funded by the taxpayer, as we were reminded earlier. I hope that the review to be carried out by the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, will look closely at this area, as the NHS is such a large employer and a lot of lessons can be learned. However, as we have heard, the problem is not unique to the NHS.
I have a couple of other, wider points to make. As we know, BME communities have played a huge role in the NHS since its inception and throughout its history, socially and historically. We must ensure that they are not kept unfairly from proper career progression but are supported to play a full leadership role, as with all areas of public and private employment—as we have heard.
I also welcome what the Prime Minister said recently about the need to investigate why black people are more likely to be in prison than in top universities; he has appointed David Lammy MP to look into that. Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister, talked about this issue a lot in the context of social mobility. It has not really bottomed out; it is a real scandal that it still exists in this country.
We need to take a long hard look at the realities of modern Britain. Why is it that 14% of the overall population are BME yet they make up one-quarter of the prison population? We must do better for all sections of our society and raise aspirations, not least through mentoring. All the aspects that have been discussed today are extremely positive and I welcome all of them. However, the whole issue of race equality now needs to be right at the top of the agenda, and I welcome the review.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing this today, and indeed for the story of her great-uncle who escaped from the problems that he had in being a Catholic by finding a home in the Labour Party. I am sorry that his great-niece managed to escape our clutches. She also paid tribute to her Secretary of State but of course we have the wonderful Sadiq Khan, for whom we have great hopes later this week. I am sure he will be a grand role model in future.
I pay tribute to the expertise, experience and, for some, the long record of those who have contributed today. The difficulties faced by BME people are at every level and in every sector. Those difficulties are in the public sector and in industry, from board level down to apprenticeships and the unskilled. The difficulties are perhaps more marked for women, but they are there all the time.
So when we champion and celebrate those who have broken perhaps not a glass ceiling but a brass ceiling, we should acknowledge the hurdles that they have overcome. The causes are wide, of course, and therefore the solutions will be too. They are societal, educational, attitudinal and legal, and we must start in all those fields. We need to raise aspirations as well as the educational and network support to equip all our citizens for a fair chance at work, but we also need to educate and train those who recruit to look out for—indeed, to search for—those who do not automatically come knocking at their door.
We need to support those in work by encouraging trade union membership, by training and mentoring or, yes, by a bit of positive discrimination in assisting them to apply for promotion and in developing their talents and opportunities within the workplace. We need to outlaw unfair employment practices and the systems that somehow always manage to pay BME employees less than their white colleagues, whether by bonuses, by pay grades, by access to special payments or access to overtime, by training opportunities or by proper recognition for their contribution.
As the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, said, we need to ensure that there are role models at every level—among supervisors, union officials, managers, directors, Permanent Secretaries, safety reps, chairs of boards or any other elevated role, so it is clear that those positions are open to all. Those role models must start at the top, as others have said. Indeed, a target of no all-white FTSE boards by 2020 would be a worthwhile start. Today, as cited by the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, and others, 98% of FTSE 100 chairs being white is simply no reflection of the customers or the workforce of any of those companies. Just as the Companies Act now requires a breakdown of female employees on the board or in senior positions as well as in the wider company, we need to do that for ethnicity as well. Until businesses are confronted by their own poor record, they are unlikely to champion change.
As with any problem, we must start with ourselves. That means the public sector, funded by 100% of taxpayers, who come in all shapes, sizes, and colours, and in two genders. Yet the senior people they fund do not look or sound like them, as my noble friend Lord Morris said. The executive body of the Civil Service is completely white—and 85% male—while Whitehall’s corporate management board and ministerial team are similarly wholly white: and that team is responsible for diversity in the Civil Service.
This is not a matter of the skills and expertise not being available or a problem that can be sorted by education and training. As the 2014 research undertaken in the Civil Service, quoted by my noble friend Lady Warwick, showed,
“cultural and leadership climates are the main barriers to the progression of talented BAME staff”, and:
“Unconscious bias and discrimination … means there is not always equal access to promotions … and secondments”.
Therefore, while we warmly welcome the noble Baroness’s review—no pressure there, of course—on increasing progression in the labour market by people from minority backgrounds, we must also look to our own workforce, within the Civil Service and the wider public sector. As the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, said on her appointment:
“It has never been more important to … capitalise on the … talents of every individual in the workplace, regardless of their background”.
That applies to the public sector, with its myriad demands. As the TUC said, any loss of fair BME representation,
“is a huge waste of talent. Companies that only recruit from a narrow base are missing out on the wide range of experiences on offer from Britain’s many different communities. The government’s taskforce on racism must make it harder for discriminating employers to get away with their prejudices”.
As my noble friend Lady Howell said, it is time we stopped telling young people from different ethnic backgrounds that all they need to do is to get better qualified and all will be fine. No; we must get better at recruiting, promoting and paying these youngsters. As the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, said, it is not their effort alone—it is effort on the part of the rest of us.
As regards the focus of the noble Baroness’s review, its objectives are worthy: increasing by 20% the proportion of apprenticeships taken by people from BME backgrounds; increasing by 20% the number of BME students at university; ensuring that 20,000 start-up loans are awarded to BME applicants by 2020; increasing by 20% BME employment; and increasing the diversity of the Armed Forces, which has been mentioned, and the diversity of police recruitment. In that list there is no mention of discriminatory employment practices, yet just last month, as the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, and other noble Lords have said, the TUC showed that BAME workers with degrees are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than white graduates. Indeed, at every level of education, jobless rates are much higher for BAME workers. Even those with A-level equivalents are three times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts, and those with GCSE equivalents and basic-level qualifications are twice as likely to be out of work. Across the workforce, the employment gap between the overall population and ethnic minorities is 11 percentage points, which we should all be ashamed of.
I am therefore delighted that the Prime Minister has set the goal of increasing by 20% the number of BME students in higher education and that the Government will require universities to publish admission and retention rate by gender, ethnic background and disadvantage. However, while I welcome action to get more BAME people into apprenticeships and universities, we must make sure that that does not just delay the discrimination until after graduation, when they then find it harder than their white contemporaries to find jobs.
The review also does not appear to cover remuneration where—to take just graduates, which other noble Lords have mentioned—black workers with degrees are paid nearly a quarter less than their white peers. More widely, not only are ethnic minorities more likely to be unemployed but those in work are more likely to be in accommodation and food services, retail, transport, health and social work—the low-paid sectors—and less likely to be in manufacturing and construction.
There is much work—and a lot of knowledge—in this area, and there are many activists making a difference, but, as with the Ethnic Minority Employment Stakeholder Group, to whose work I pay tribute, the time simply for their advice has gone. We need to take action, not just take note, as my noble friend Lord Morris said, on the recommendations that are already there.
My questions to the Minister are as follows. Will the Government develop a race equality strategy, not just with targets but with adequate resourcing? Will they use public sector contracts to improve companies’ race-equality practices, as suggested by my noble friend Lord Parekh and others? Will they ensure that anonymised or name-blind application forms are used across the public sector, as UCAS is now considering, and will they encourage private sector employers to do the same? Finally, will the Government require employers to include staff ethnicity figures in annual reports, alongside pay analysis across equality strands?
In the debate earlier today, as we finished the Trade Union Bill, we noticed that the Bill would require any publicly funded organisation to document the amounts of facility time, safety work and learning reps activity, so we think that asking for an annual breakdown of workforce numbers should not be too much to ask.
I thank the Minister for bringing forward this debate, and I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith, on her appointment and wish her well. I think that she must already feel a lot of expectations on her shoulders.
My Lords, I am glad that this debate has been so widely welcomed. Today, we have heard some extraordinary insights into the important business of developing BME talent and those will feed into our review, which will be a great opportunity for us all. It was particularly good to hear from my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith, who has taken on the new burden of leading the review. In response to the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, she will have good resourcing to assist with that process. My noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith said that success would come when the world had moved beyond talk of quotas and targets. I agree. The talent is out there. We need to reach out to it in many different ways and we need to use this review to find ways through.
This evening there have been a number of themes, which I thought I would pick up in summarising the debate. First, there was the theme of role models, which, as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said, apply at every level. I have been very struck by how everyone, including the noble Baroness, Lady Howells, and my noble friend Lady Bottomley, has had different stories to tell and has made different suggestions about how to promote role models in this area.
A second theme was personal contribution by individuals. My noble friend Lady Bottomley talked about the two things that she had really cared about when she was a Minister in the health area. It seemed to me that the kinds of things that she was talking about, dating back to the 1990s, would lead to a good conversation with the noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, on what could be done in that area. I will of course write to the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, about appointments in the NHS, because I do not have the information available to respond to her various questions.
Another important strand was diverse teams and their value in terms of success, growth and productivity. London is a vibrant example of their success. I should also add my congratulations to those of my noble friend Lord Taylor on the brilliant success of Leicester City. It is another example of diversity in teams.
The fourth theme was the importance of avoiding discrimination at interview and more generally in recruitment. My noble friend Lord Polak gave us examples from a Jewish perspective, which I found very interesting. Many spoke of the value of the use of blind recruitment, which I mentioned in my opening speech, and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, made some other suggestions in the area of recruitment. My fifth theme was unintended prejudice, which will be part of the McGregor-Smith review. The same was true of data, a sixth theme. Data as an agent of change was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, who rightly mentioned the example of women on boards. I agree with her that that business-led initiative has achieved a lot.
I was particularly struck by the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Howells, who has had such an amazing career—in Grenada, in Washington and in Paris—and who contributed to work on equality to such an extent.
Perhaps I could add some wider context. The labour market is thriving and we have record levels of employment. The employment rate for October to December 2015 was 74%, the highest on record. The number of people in employment is the highest on record at 31.4 million and it has increased by over half a million compared to a year earlier. Both the number of men and the number of women in work have hit record levels, and unemployment is at 5%, which is the lowest rate since 2005. That is a positive context. But what about the future demographics? The proportion of people in the labour market from BME backgrounds is steadily increasing—indeed, at a record rate, according to my noble friend Lady McGregor-Smith. This reflects long-running and deep-seated changes that will lead, of course, to a more diverse society. The potential of these individuals must be harnessed as they make their way through the education system and into the labour market. It is the right thing for the individuals concerned, the right thing for business and, more importantly, the right thing for the country. It is partly to look ahead to this changing Britain that the Government have set up a new inter-ministerial group under my BIS colleague Sajid Javid, Secretary of State. The group met for the first time on
Over the course of the last Parliament we created 2 million more jobs: that is 2 million more opportunities for people to go out and earn a living. This included a 20% increase in the number of people in work from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The Prime Minister is therefore right to expect more progress in this Parliament and announced his ambition to further increase the number of ethnic minorities in employment by 2020. That is a challenge accepted by the Department for Work and Pensions. The noble Lord, Lord Adebowale, mentioned that 20%, and he feels that our record is not good enough.
I am so grateful for that. People will know that I have a bit of a problem with pronunciation. That had foxed me, but now the noble Lord has taught me the way forward, for which I thank him. The noble Lord said that our record is not good enough. That is, of course, why we have set up our review.
As the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Handsworth, said, people are key to our success in this country. I know this from my experience as a huge employer working in lots of local communities. Our values included treating people equally and with respect. Frankly, that is what leads to success and, indeed, to productivity improvement. We are lucky in this country to have had race equality legislation for 50 years. But of course racism is unacceptable, and this Government are determined to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get on in life, free from harassment and fear.
It is good news that 237,000 people with a BME background started one of the 2.4 million apprenticeships that began over the last Parliament. In this Parliament, we will go further, committing to 3 million starts. Of these, we aim to ensure that a greater proportion comes from black and ethnic minority backgrounds. This is a challenge that my colleague the Skills Minister has accepted.
For those who want to be their own boss, the introduction of start-up loans has made a huge difference, with more than 20% of loans in the last Parliament going to those with a BME background. We have set ourselves an ambitious target of 75,000 new loans over this Parliament, of which a greater proportion should go to ethnic minorities.
But it is not just getting a job that matters; it is ensuring that young people have the education they need to fulfil their potential. On this, there is a good story to tell on the progress of BME students into higher education, but we can do more. We will take action to increase the proportion of BME students progressing to higher education by 20% by 2020.
My noble friend Lady Bottomley rightly drew attention to the opportunities in universities among academics and in university appointments more generally. I join her in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, on her appointment as head of SOAS. I was interested to hear about the Equity Challenge Unit. The noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, mentioned GEEMA. I will pass on these thoughts to the Higher Education Minister, Jo Johnson, who is engaged on this issue.
I do not have the figures for Parliament, but I think that we agree that there has been a change here and that that is reflected in this House. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Parekh—forgive my pronunciation again—both for his kind words and for pointing out how the situation has improved on the Conservative Benches. I was glad to hear from my noble friend Lord Sheikh that he has encouraged this trend, as I know have other noble friends.
The public sector is working hard, from efforts to increase diversity among the police and Armed Forces to initiatives to improve diversity in the Civil Service. Following research published in March last year, the Talent Action Plan has been launched, focused on building inclusion across the Civil Service and ensuring that groups that historically have been underrepresented are fully supported in the workplace and given support to progress. This includes an expansion of the Summer Diversity Internship Programme and widening the Positive Action Pathway. The senior leaders race network, launched earlier this year, will also make a difference, with role models—again that theme—inspiring the leaders of the future.
My noble friend Lord Sheikh asked about minorities in prisons. He will now be aware from what has been said that David Lammy MP’s inquiry into criminal justice issues has recently launched and put out a call for evidence. Perhaps my noble friend would be kind enough to feed in his concerns to that inquiry.
Many of us have touched on board-level work, which is closer to my own ministerial responsibilities. Sir John Parker’s group on BME representation on corporate boards, mentioned in the excellent and varied Library Note for this debate, has been looking at this issue. Sir John chairs Anglo American. His group includes David Tyler, who chairs Sainsbury’s, Trevor Phillips, president of John Lewis—both huge employers—and Ken Olisa, a non-executive director of the IoD who is also the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London and another role model. The group’s aim is to end mono-cultural boards in the FTSE 100 by 2020, which may please the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. The group will report in the autumn. Currently, 5% of CEOs and chairs in the FTSE 100 are from ethnic and minority backgrounds. The successes of these individuals reflect the entrepreneurial skills that we heard about from the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria—again, a role-model point.
Only last week, as it happens, following a meeting with Sir John, I met members of his group and others including leading headhunters to look into the issue of data protection. Noble Lords will know that I have a taste for the practical. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Morris, that I tend to like action as much as words, which can be a problem when you are a government Minister. However, I discovered from Sir John and Trevor Phillips that recruiters were saying that they could not keep databases which allowed them to present lists of candidates without running into data restrictions. We met and agreed that in the short term the ICO—the Information Commissioner’s Office—in consultation with search firms and others should produce a practical guide on what to do that can be used by interested parties.
In closing, I add a few words about fundamentals—the philosophy of the subject if you like. What underlies everything that I have said is the desire that merit and accomplishment should be the only criterion for all appointments in public and commercial life. In other words, everyone’s attributes will be judged against the same criteria whatever their background. Sex, skin colour, social background, disability, religion and other irrelevant differentials should have nothing to do with it. In the reasonably near future—I hope not in the long run—that is the society we hope and expect to achieve. In such a society, there would be no need for special investigations to look at appointments against this or that social criterion nor to consider special measures to counteract barriers to labour market changes. One measure of our success as a society will be how quickly we can reach that position.