Hot topic: Diversity quotas, part two

PwC recently announced plans to ban all-male shortlists to boost the number of senior women

The BBC then revealed a ban on all-white shortlists for jobs above a certain grade, as only 6% of senior positions are held by BAME individuals, with ITN following suit. So is it time to introduce quotas in all areas or are there more effective ways to increase diversity?

Binna Kandola, senior partner at Pearn Kandola, says:

"First, quotas or targets are not new. What is new is the way both PwC and the BBC have reframed their policies to create more impact. Rather than saying ‘we must always have a diverse shortlist,’ they state they are getting rid of shortlists that are all-white and all-male.

"Second, where organisations have introduced such policies, line managers find it relatively easy to subvert them.Advocates of such policies will refer to the Rooney Rule in the US, but there are more failures than successes.Having someone on a shortlist is not the same as appointing them.

"Third, PwC’s reason for banning all-male shortlists is to close their gender pay gap. However, its race pay gap is just as big and yet the (all-white) PwC board has not addressed this. This policy, eye-catching as it is, suggests an inattention to race."

Helen Giles, executive director of people and governance at St Mungo’s, says:

"Having a ban on all-white or all-male shortlists is good in principle, but only works in organisations and sectors where there is a sufficient talent pool of women or BAME people. Since only 6% of senior positions are currently held by BAME individuals this can pose difficulties.

"When we recruit for senior roles at St Mungo’s we always brief our executive search agencies to ensure they get us high-quality BAME candidates, but we have had limited success to date. This is why our positive action strategy focuses on making sure we bring in high-potential BAME staff at lower levels then use initiatives such as mentoring and our ‘Steps Into Management’ scheme to ensure we are constructing a solid baseline for BAME career progression on merit, to all levels of the charity."

Read the first part of this hot topic