How companies can stand with BLM through policy change

By Laura Coryton June 16, 2020 9:41 am

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has taken the world by storm and is changing the way we see many aspects of society: from the statues that adorn our streets to addressing the inherent biases that we all hold. The BLM movement is about taking action where you are best placed to do so. For every company, this means ensuring that your business policies are as inclusive as possible. This includes your hiring process.

Black lives matter at work because BME communities are vastly underrepresented in almost every industry. While 10.7% of white workers are managers, directors and senior officials, this number drops to 8% amongst BME communities, and to 5.7% if you’re black. This impacts the distribution of earnings and power. Black workers educated to degree level earn 23.1% less on average than their white counterparts and unemployment levels more than double amongst BME communities when compared to white people.

Employability is important because it has a knock-on effect on many aspects of life including living standards, healthcare and representation. Lower wages often result in less income to spend on accommodation, which may help to explain why only 8% of white people in the UK live in overcrowded accommodation, and yet this figure rises to 26.7% amongst black communities and 30.9% amongst Pakistani or Bangladeshi families. With lower disposable income, healthcare is also likely to suffer. Black women hold a mortality rate four times higher than white women in the UK, and particularly during childbirth. Although many factors play into this, lower earnings undoubtedly have a significant role to play.

It also pays to care about diversity. Research has shown that companies are much more likely to underperform in profitability if they are not diverse in terms of race, background and gender. Diverse workplaces are 35% more likely to outperform their less diverse competitors on profitability. This is partly because a more diverse workplaces produce a wider range of ideas and perspectives, which help companies to grow, stay innovative, reach new audiences and stay ahead of the competition.

Companies can show their allegiance to the Black Lives Matter movement by doing more to help redress the employability gap. For starters, they can foster inclusivity in their hiring process by adopting the following company policies:

Firstly, assess the language you use in your job postings. Ensure your language is non-gendered and give thought to your criteria. Research has shown that men, and especially white men, will apply for a job when they meet 60% of the requirements while women will apply when they meet 100% of requirements. The most common reason given by both men and women for not applying for a job is a belief they wouldn’t be hired. Due to this reasoning, and because the statistics show that BME applicants are less likely to be hired for senior roles, it is likely that these percentages are lower for BME applicants, although the research does not give an ethnicity breakdown. It’s also important to apply these tips to your interview questions and tasks.

Secondly, make sure a team is involved in your hiring process. Research has shown that we are likely to inherently prefer candidates who are culturally similar to us and perceive them as a better fit for the role. To ensure your hiring process is as inclusive as possible, ensure you include a diverse team that can assess applicants fairly.

Thirdly, ensure your job listings are shared with diverse audiences by actively reaching out to BME communities. That’s what we’re doing by writing this blog! We are hiring a new Associate Consultants to join our PR team at the Whitehouse Consultancy and we want to attract as diverse a pool of applicants as possible. Please consider applying if you have a keen interest in PR, journalism and a knack for writing. We would be delighted to hear from you.

Finally, keep reassessing what you can do. Whether it’s assessing the inclusivity of your pro-bono schemes or reorganising your workplace culture, make sure you’re always considering what tangible action your company can take to address inequality and promote diversity.

All unmarked statistics are from the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Report ‘Statistics and analysis to accompany the race report: Healing a divided Britain

The Whitehouse team are experts in human rights and equality policy, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of campaign groups, associations and membership organisations, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union and the wider world. More information about our equality and human rights experience can be found on our website, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at chris.whitehouse@whitehouseconsulting.co.uk.

By Laura Coryton June 16, 2020 9:41 am

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