Clean up your act on diversity, government tells FTSE companies

Clean up your act on diversity, government tells FTSE companies

Business minister writes to FTSE 350 chiefs echoing calls for businesses to publish breakdown of workforce by pay and race

The government has written to the chief executives of the biggest UK-listed companies urging them to improve diversity and echoing a call to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band.

The business minister Margot James said all FTSE-350 companies should take up key recommendations from a recent government-backed review into race in the workplace by the businesswoman Ruby McGregor-Smith.

It concluded that helping black and minority ethnic people to progress in their careers at the same rate as their white counterparts could add £24bn a year to the British economy.

McGregor-Smith, a Conservative peer and the former chief executive of facilities management company Mitie, said recruitment processes, biases and, in some cases, outright discrimination had held back workers from BME backgrounds.

In her letter to the chief executives, James highlighted the lower employment rate for people from BME backgrounds compared with white people. She urged them to act on the recommendations in the McGregor-Smith review, including that they reveal the level of diversity in their companies by publishing a breakdown of their workforces by race and pay. James also said they should set targets on diversity and nominate a board member to deliver these.

“It simply makes no business sense for people to be left behind because of their ethnic background and I am askingFTSE 350 companies to play their part in driving the agenda for greater diversity in the workplace,” she said.

“Genuine and lasting change must come from within the business community, and I encourage companies to take forward Baroness McGregor-Smith’s recommendations.”

Publishing her report last month, McGregor-Smith, who became the first Asian woman to run a FTSE-250 company when she took over at Mitie in 2007, expressed her frustration at the lack of progress on improving diversity in the workplace. She said the government should make the reporting of race and pay breakdowns a legal obligation if employers do not do it voluntarily.

McGregor-Smith welcomed the government’s message to chief executives on Tuesday.

“I’m delighted to see the government playing its part in calling on the UK’s largest businesses to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” she said.

“FTSE-350 companies must help to bring about change by committing to greater transparency and accountability on this vitally important issue, as set out in the recommendations in my review.”

Original Source – Katie Allen, The Guardian –

adminClean up your act on diversity, government tells FTSE companies