That’s right, equity—not equality. Though racial equality remains the ultimate aim, getting there begins with racial equity. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s still very much the case that black and ethnic minority (BAME) people are underrepresented in higher paid positions despite BAME people being more likely to pursue higher education than white people.

Racial equity helps to correct the racial bias that favours white people. It does so by positively discriminating in favour of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. But that doesn’t mean hindering the progress of white people—who remain overrepresented in higher positions. Rather, by helping certain ethnic groups to move forward a few steps, racial equity means they can enjoy the same opportunities as other groups.

So, how are companies like Nestlé doing this?

Contents

Putting people before grades and universities in the graduate recruitment process

Creating Role Models

Racial equity and the future

Putting people before grades and universities in the graduate recruitment process

Employers recognise that the problem of racial inequality in the workplace begins long before graduates enter the recruitment process. The fact is, top universities are still overwhelmingly white. This means that white people are still more likely to be offered better paid positions by Russell Group-fixated recruiters and go on to earn 10% more than ethnic minority peers from ‘lesser’ universities. Not only is this morally unacceptable, it also deprives businesses of their share of talent from diverse ethnic groups which, according to the McGregor-Smith review of race in the workplace, is worth £24 billion to the UK economy.

Some companies are overcoming this with a more racially equitable approach to graduate recruitment that focuses on applicants’ personalities and ambitions rather than the universities they attended or the grades they achieved. Nestlé, for instance, looks for behaviours that represent the kind of organisation it wants to be, both commercially and culturally.

They also look for evidence, other than purely academic, that applicants have the drive to succeed in their chosen career—perhaps they’ll have demonstrated this on a placement or work experience. It’s about setting new criteria for assessing suitability as a means of avoiding the unconscious bias that results in unfulfilled potential for businesses and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Creating Role Models

Another major disadvantage for ethnic minorities in the professional space is the lack of role models in higher paid positions. Without representation there is no model for success, which can make the idea of attaining a top position within the professional space feel like a pipe dream.

Creating role models helps to normalise and instil the idea that ethnic minorities can get and are getting into top-flight roles. One way that companies are doing this is through graduate mentoring. By creating more graduate mentors from ethnic minority backgrounds, they’re providing real examples of success for others to follow and giving reassurance that unconscious bias is being corrected. It’s in their interests to do so—with ethnic minorities accounting for 40% of the workforce, companies taking steps like this will access a much larger talent pool than companies that don’t.

Racial equity and the future

Black Lives Matter has a huge impact on diversity and inclusion in the recruitment space. But although many companies are keen to get on board with the BLM message, there is scepticism among black and ethnic minority candidates when the pledge of allegiance isn’t backed with real action.

So what is real action? It’s everything discussed above. Taking affirmative action to correct unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Creating role models. Rejecting shortlists that aren’t sufficiently diverse. Questioning established practices. It’s companies actually doing something. And it certainly isn’t getting ethnic minority employees to sort racial inequality under the guise of ‘collaboration’.

In a diversifying society where authenticity is often said to be an increasingly rare and valued commodity, it’s companies that take real steps on diversity inclusion that offer the most attractive futures to people from diverse backgrounds. And it’s those companies and their diverse employees who will prosper.

Looking for something else to read? Check out our blog on avoiding social exclusion.

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