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Companies ‘Failing to help black bosses get into boardrooms'

OBSTACLES: Businesses are failing to help talented black and ethnic minority professionals get past middle management

NEW RESEARCH suggests businesses are failing to help talented black and ethnic minority professionals get past middle management.

The report, commissioned by the Black British Business Awards, studied 30 corporations and found a lack of clear paths to promotion for minority employees — partly due to a failure to start conversations about race.

Dr Doyin Atewologun, lecturer in organisational leadership and learning at Queen Mary University of London, led the research.

She found that more BAME (black and minority ethnic) workers were being hired across the companies, and chief executives believed they had initiatives in place to help these employees progress. But despite this, very few made it to executive levels.

Fewer than 50 per cent of the HR directors who were surveyed had concrete plans to help mid-level BAME employees move up.

Melanie Eusebe, co-founder of the BBBAs, said: “The discomfort around language and speaking about race is great. What do we say? What do we do? That has led to one of the reasons why the problem is so hard to tackle. [When there were conversations] we found there was a whole lot of goodwill, a whole lot of people working together but with no aligned strategy.”

Fellow co-founder Sophie Chandauka, executive director at Morgan Stanley, said: “If every CEO and division had tracked and monitored attraction, retention, and progression of talent with reference to race, it would be clear what the trends are in departments that are not doing well, and managers that are not ensuring black talent progresses. There need to be consequences for that not happening.

“This research is really now enabling us as a catalyst for change as it adds that component of gravitas for the awards to be more than a celebration.”

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