Reem Zahran: A Lack of Diversity at the Top

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Reem Zahran: A Lack of Diversity at the Top

However much people from a BAME (black and minority ethnic) background may achieve career-wise, recent figures show they are thwarted when it comes to reaching the very top.

According to Equality Group, diversity stops at management level, with only 2% of UK director positions held by ethnic minority professionals. Recently Amazon appointed their second black female director to the board, and this made the news because it happens so rarely that anyone from a BAME background reaches board level.

    • This is the 1st bar50%
    • This is the 2nd bar30%
    • Insufficient ethnic representation at senior management / board level. 33%
    • BAME talent at senior management levels5%
    • Employees who quit are ethnic minorities23%
In fact 33% of Brits state UK businesses have insufficient ethnic representation at senior management or board level.

The Bank of England, the UK’s most important financial institution is even losing more BAME talent than they hire, with only 5% at senior management level – and 23% of all employees who quit are ethnic minorities. How should this issue be addressed?

Studies show that diversity is a positive thing because it gives a company different perspectives. Young people from BAME backgrounds get to see someone at the top level who looks like them and has similar experiences, and this improves morale and creates a more inclusive environment, attracting more talent, while preventing the talent drain experienced at the Bank of England. Meanwhile you’re more likely to do business with a company that has a diverse board because you feel like ‘that’s something that really reflects me’ and this improves relationships with various partner clients.
With my experience as a Chief Operating Officer in global banking and technology organizations I feel that companies need to be proactive and practice talent mapping within the industry to identify people from BAME backgrounds who would be good for the board and to try to attract them. There’s plenty of qualified individuals out from various ethnic minority backgrounds, it’s just a matter of putting in the work to find them.
It’s a positive thing when organizations recognize this is something they need to improve on and take the steps to make it happen, rather than paying lip service or ticking a box by bringing on one particular person that’s going to ‘achieve diversity for us’. Role models are important and one of the objectives of Tech Women Today is to help companies address these issues via our consulting services. We are also proud to showcase ethnic minorities across tech in our videos and content, doing our bit to redress the balance.