Paul Sesay, CEO and founder of Inclusive Companies (www.inclusivecompanies.co.uk)
“We welcome the annual Parker Review and it’s great to see the progress being made year-on-year. The new target for FTSE 350 companies and Top 50 private businesses is also welcome but why stop there? EVERY organisation should be addressing this.”
“Without equity, representation has no value. We need to be careful that these new targets don’t cause a knee-jerk reaction – businesses must make the right appointments, not just take the nearest person who looks to fit the bill. That will be counter-productive.
“We saw it in the wake of Black Lives Matter when appointments of black people into senior management rose but many had no equity and the appointments were hollow. Our Black Inclusion Index in 2022 showed the stark reality compared to the perception whereby people were appointed to make the numbers look right but had no real say or influence in the business.”
“Representation on its own is not enough – appointments must be made with the right intentions and not just to make the numbers look right. People must have equity so they are involved in the conversation right from the start.
“Furthermore, it’s not just enough to have representation at senior management board level – one appointment does not change a culture! We see it a lot in D&I where a token appointment is made but inclusion and equity across the business is not followed through.”
“Beware setting targets can be artificial: we should really be measuring a culture, although that is harder. Targets should be achieved out of the culture which, itself, can be improved through education, networks and true equity where all voices are listened to, not just heard.”
“The Parker Review focuses on having ethnic minority directors and managers, but businesses should focus on inclusion as a whole: boards are sadly lacking people with disabilities, women and LGBTQ+ individuals, to name just three protected groups.”
“Companies are not alone here: there are plenty of experienced inclusive training consultants who will guide businesses step-by-step, starting with the data, to recruitment, education, promotion and retention of a diverse workforce.”