What are the benefits to businesses of driving Race (BAME) equality in hiring?

And how can these businesses engage this growing pool of talent?

Bramwith Consulting are very proud of our diverse and multi-cultural workforce and have recently been recognised by Business in the Community (BITC) as a Top 65 UK Best Employer for Race (BAME).

In this article, Ben Riley (Director, Bramwith Consulting) discusses some of the recommendations by BITC from their research, as well as some specific suggestions where Ben and the team at Bramwith are working with Bramwith’s clients to drive BAME equality through the hiring process and also in helping Bramwith’s clients to engage with, retain and develop BAME and other minority groups.

If you are interested in discussing in more detail, Bramwith Consulting are also running a Diversity & Inclusion conference on 21st November 2017 chaired by our Managing Director, Saffa Ayub where the below suggestions and more will be discussed in more detail.

According to Sandra Kerr, Race Equality Director for Business in the Community:

“Getting race equality right in the UK is worth £24bn per year to the UK economy – 1.3% of GDP. Employers with more diverse teams also have 35% better financial results.”

According to a report released by the Policy Exchange, around 14% of the UK population is currently made up of BAME individuals but it adds that:

“Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities now make up a significant and fast-growing part of the population”

According to this study, BAME groups account for 80% of the UK’s population growth, with Black Africans being the fastest growing group, whilst White and Black Caribbean groups being the slowest. It estimates that by 2050, BAME citizens will account for between 20-30% of the population in the UK – that’s a big number of potential employees at all levels!

So with such a large pool of new talent increasingly coming from BAME groups, there’s a real opportunity for employers to ensure they are engaging such candidates, whilst also ensuring they are being nurtured and developed up the career ladder. So, this isn’t so much of being a “Good Samaritan” but more of an opportunity to hire some fantastic candidates that are currently out of most employers reach.

Now, it’s important for employers to understand that there is a difference between Diversity Hiring and Diversity Retention and every business needs to be proactive in improving on both fronts if they are to get the most out of their workforce – there’s no point in hiring great BAME staff and then losing them all. I’d also like to add that whilst this article is focused on helping employers hire and develop Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) staff, the same principles apply for hiring from any form of minority group – gender, sexual orientation, religion etc.

So why are BAME groups underrepresented at all levels, especially in management, let alone in executive boards? What can businesses do to ensure they are forward thinking in both doing the right thing but also in making the most of this growing pool of talent? Here are a few suggestions:

1.      Create a clear and demonstrable internal commitment to having an inclusive workforce

  • This starts at the top of the business and needs to be driven down the business so everyone understands that as a business, you are committed to common cultural values and beliefs which include having an inclusive culture.
  • I’d start with the hiring process and certainly new starter inductions, setting out a clear mandate of zero tolerance on any form of discrimination meaning your organisation work as a team with a common direction.

2.      Project to the World your commitment to having an inclusive workforce

  • When a BAME applicant looks at your firm, that applicant needs to be able see that your business is committed to hiring, supporting and progressing applicants from all backgrounds irrespective of race, colour, religion, sex etc. This is why every business should look to be recognised by organisations like BITC for their approach to minority group Diversity & Inclusion. This also drives the activity of examining what other firms do well and looking to improve your business with strong examples of best practice.
  • In the modern age, it is very easy to share your data and achievements so applicants can see that there are great case studies in the business. So be vocal in promoting BAME and other minority leaders so there are clear case studies and leaders. A great way to do this is to ensure that you have BAME and other minorities represented in interview panels, especially when interviewing BAME applicants.

3.      Ask yourself the right questions

  • A good policy for any business, but if you start asking the right questions of your business, then you’ll start getting the right answers. This means getting the whole company together and having a round table, open discussion on issues of D&I, listening to ideas and how to improve.
  • Start asking questions like:

a.      What exactly is unconscious bias? How can we overcome this?

b.     How can we actually make a difference and take this talk into genuine actions?

c.      What organisations (like BITC or indeed Bramwith Consulting) can help us to improve our culture, hire and develop BAME and other minority applicants?

4.      Understand what BAME applicants are looking for when applying and also when employed?

  • Do BAME applicants look for different things in a future employer? If you don’t know, then maybe you should! Fundamental to any form of sales is information gathering, so understand the drivers of your target audience. So research where BAME staff look for jobs (job boards, industry journals etc), what BAME applicants look for when applying so you can sell to them throughout the recruitment process, which includes the job spec, advertisements etc.
  • Start by understanding cultural differences and backgrounds of the minority group, including different perspectives on your business. Reverse mentoring can be very beneficial on both sides so the employer and employee understand where each one is coming from, how to build rapport with both and be understanding of different approaches. Reverse mentoring can “break down walls” and help culturally as well as give junior candidates (BAME or not) a clearer vision of how to progress in your business.
  • Many people don’t drink alcohol whether due to religious beliefs, allergic reactions to alcohol or simply that they don’t enjoy the taste or effects. If your business has established a culture of drinking alcohol and you hire a high performer who doesn’t drink, would you want to ostracise that individual? Surely it is better to learn early on that they don’t enjoy drinking alcohol and create an environment that accepts and embraces this.

 5.      Your employees may need advice on dealing with racism and other forms of discrimination

  • As a recruitment business, I have seen a lot of examples of discrimination from clients and candidates through both conscious and unconscious bias. It’s important that every employee of your business understands what your company policy is on discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious and how to respond to it.
  • This starts with your employee’s immediate response but also in bringing back these issues internally to discuss the best way to educate this other external individual of the positive benefits to their business of fishing in other talent pools and thus driving a more diverse workforce.
  • In my experience in recruitment, 99% of discrimination is either unconscious or with perceived good intentions (for example, proactively only hiring women or BAME employees to get the levels more equal) I should add.
6.      It is vital to set targets for D&I but avoid quota systems
  • Set targets – In any business, it is vital to set targets for progression and improved performance, so driving D&I is no different. If you want to improve, you need to understand where you are now and where you want to go. Once you know where you want to go, you can start to put in place initiatives, education, as well as short, medium and long terms targets to ensure that you achieve your goals.
  • Avoid setting positive discriminatory quotas, always hire and promote on merit – It is essential that within your business, you engage everyone in driving Diversity & Inclusion. A lot of businesses have D&I Officers who drive D&I through engaging with these minority groups but not engaging with the majority so losing 99% of the benefits of discussing and trying to implement real change.
  • So engage with the majority, in the UK this is typically white men (like me).   A lot of this can include education and ensuring that, for example, white men are part of the discussion, so they understand the problem and don’t feel that they are being prejudiced against based on their gender or skin colour.
  • It is for this reason that I would encourage businesses to avoid using quote systems or other forms of exclusion for hiring or for promotions. Resentment is created when such quotas are used, even if with good intentions which is the last thing that a business needs of a “them and us culture”. Be clear to everyone internally and externally, that you only hire on merit.
  • In my opinion, the clear message should be that the best person is hired and promoted for any job, but that we need to be proactive to look for a diverse shortlist of candidates and their experience, skills and ability to be successful in the job is fully assessed.


What do you think? What do you do in your business to drive and ensure that BAME and other minority groups are being engaged, hired and developed?

If you are interested in discussing with me or in attending our Procurement & Supply Chain specific Diversity & Inclusion conference on 21st November, please contact either me (Ben Riley, Director) at b.riley@bramwithconsulting.co.uk or my colleague, Saffa Ayub (Bramwith Consulting MD) at sayub@bramwithconsulting.co.uk


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