Why Diversity Matters to Britain

Miranda Brawn 26 January 2016

Britain has changed beyond all recognition over the last few decades; it is not the same place that it was 40, or even 20, years ago. It is now a very diverse and multi-ethnic society with people from many different backgrounds and cultures. This diversity is a strength of British society, and being positive and proactive about it to create a more inclusive and equal society is vital.

Of course, diversity doesn’t just mean people of different ethnic backgrounds; it also means women, disabled people, people of different religious beliefs, ages, social background, sexual orientation, etc. A strong, competitive economy is built on making the best of all available talent. Companies that champion and promote diversity, in every sense of the word, within their organisation reap very real rewards from their efforts. The benefits include enhanced business performance, reputational strength, a more innovative and collaborative culture, and the ability to attract talent.

Keynote speaker at Google HQ on “Why Diversity Matters to Britain”- Jan 2016

This has been backed by research which proves that companies with greater diversity outperform their peers by a significant margin; the McKinsey Diversity Matter Report 2015 states 15% for gender and 35% for ethnic minorities. Organisations today are operating in markets that are more diverse, with demographic and social change reshaping the customer base and market dynamics, and, hence, it is no surprise that companies taking a proactive stance on diversity are seeing clear advantages.

By 2050 more than one in four people are projected to be from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population. Today, we have approximately 40% of people from a BAME background in London.

That said, race diversity still appears to be the elephant in the room and is nearly 20 years behind gender. According to a Spencer Stuart Board Index 2015 report, ethnic minority board members are stuck at 1998 levels of gender equality, with less than 2% of British directors from FTSE 150 from a BAME background. The creative sector is said to be losing out through its under-representation of BAME workers with only 5.4%.

Miranda with the Society of Asian Lawyers at the Student and Young Professional Conference, City Law School

Employers who value diversity and promote inclusion can also benefit by tapping into ambitious, talented and capable people from diverse backgrounds that other companies will miss out on. A company or organisation that has a positive reputation for increasing diversity will gain a positive reputation that will attract and retain capable employees. They will find that a wider range of clients will want to do business, thereby enhancing reputations in the market place.

In January 2016, the Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship and Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Annual Lecture were launched. The aims are to help the next generation of BAME future leaders and close the race diversity gap in Britain’s workforce. Striving to make education and diversity key for progress and success, the scholarship will provide young leaders from a BAME background with an incentive and opportunity to help prepare themselves for a successful career. A focus on diversity and leadership can be transformative to help increase all forms of diversity (not just race and gender) in many sectors within Britain’s workforce to enable real equality.

Pictures courtesy of Miranda Brawn

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