Race in the Workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:43 pm on 24th April 2017.

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Photo of Baroness McDonagh Baroness McDonagh Labour 5:43 pm, 24th April 2017

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady McGregor-Smith. It is a great report and a great piece of research. What is better, it is practical and implementable.

I want to tell the House the story of one recent experience and to ask a question of the Minister. Until recently, I was trustee of a charity called Creative Access. It was set up in the wake of the London riots by Michael Foster, who had worked all his life in the creative industries and was a very successful businessman. He was struck for the first time by how few black and Asian people were working in the industry. He established the charity to get more young people in and he went about finding them. For black and young people, it is not just that the door into the creative industries is closed to them; they do not know where the door is. Outside administrative roles, at senior levels the creative industries are populated by more than 90% white, middle-class graduates, mainly men but also some women.

He used his funds to give paid internships. He found companies across the creative industries—we must thank them—to take on these young people. Over time, he got them to fund 50% and the Government funded 50%. The reason for that is that while they started taking these young people out of social conscience, as time went on they found the amazing difference the young people made to their bottom lines. This is an economic issue. We know socially that, if you are black or Asian and young, you are two or three times more likely to be unemployed than your white counterpart. Of course that is a social issue. Yet if you get through the door with the right support and training you can add so much.

Five years on, we had put 720 young people through internships, and 84% of them at the end of that year got a full-time paid job. We were by far the most successful organisation, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, that this country has ever seen in getting disadvantaged kids full-time jobs. We were told that we were loved by the Government and that we would get re-funded. Then something happened called Brexit. The paper was in the box for us to be signed and then things changed. There was a new agenda—a new Prime Minister—and we were told we were no longer to be part of it so we had to shut down. We are now trying to re-establish ourselves as a social enterprise but I tell this story to the House because this report, too, was previously commissioned. So my question to the Minister is: in reality, how many of these recommendations and how much of this report will be implemented?