By Sebrina Kepple, Communications Manager, Trellix – 14th February 2022
Like many BMEs, I grew up hearing phrases like “You have to work twice as hard to get half…”. Little did I know that this was repeated in many homes across many cultures and that it would still ring true in adulthood.
The Strategy & Ethnic Pay Gap report highlights that despite ethnic minorities having a higher education attainment than those from white ethnic groups, women – particularly Black, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi women – work in jobs below their qualification levels. According to the most recent ONS Ethnic Pay Gap report, those aged 30 years and over in ethnic minority groups tend to earn less than those of White ethnicities in the same age group. Although these studies have relatively small sample sizes, and we should review the results with a pinch of salt, the data shared correlates with what we know; all ethnic groups and genders doing the same role are not equally paid and do not have equal opportunities for progression.
Recruiting diverse candidates is a great start for all organisations. Diversity increases creativity and innovation as diverse workforces have wider backgrounds, cultures and experiences and are therefore able to better relate to and reach a wider audience. However, smart leaders don’t just stop at recruitment, they actively seek to develop and progress diverse talent into leadership roles. According to the McKinsey Diversity Wins report, the most gender-diverse leadership teams are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability and the most ethnically diverse leadership teams are 36% more likely to outperform companies with less diverse executive teams.
With DE&I having clear benefits to organisations finances, culture, retention etc., why is progression still such a huge challenge for diverse talent? In my opinion, culture and bias are the two main reasons for a low rate of career progression among ethnic groups. Many organisations still fail to recognise the importance of DE&I and fail to build an inclusive culture. We all have biases that we should make the effort to be aware of. Leaders who aren’t aware of their unconscious biases can be detrimental to the careers of their employees.
As well as embedding DE&I into organisational culture and exposing unconscious biases, investing in and supporting practical initiatives that tackle the lack of diversity and inclusion within businesses and industries are key. Initiatives like The Xec. focus on building leadership skills and breaking down barriers into leadership roles for people from all ethnic backgrounds. On The Xec. journey, industry leaders from diverse backgrounds have shared their career stories. These inspiring individuals are leaders who have created their own platforms and implemented structures to encourage diversity, inclusion and belonging as part of the culture in small and large businesses. They look beyond themselves and use their skills, knowledge and voices to enlighten the industry and to pave the way for others.
Before starting The Xec., we were asked what we think makes a great leader. My answer then was something like – “great leaders need to be strategic, have a clear vision and the ability to clearly communicate it to others.” Today, I would add that great leaders aren’t born. It’s a choice. You don’t have to be extremely charismatic to be a great leader, I have met quite a few introverts that are fantastic leaders, they make a positive impact on businesses and people by listening, inspiring and giving others opportunities to lead. Great leaders choose to recognise the power in difference and bring talent together to achieve common goals.
Sebrina was awarded a place on The Xec. Leadership Scheme for UK-based Black, Asian, Mixed Race and Ethnic Minority PR and comms pros. She will be mentored by Doyel Maitra, Group Communications Director and Board Member, Hachette UK.