Limited progress on racial inclusion targets

"It is businesses' responsibility to ensure that the UK workforce reflects the wider UK population," said Business in the Community's race director

Limited progress has been made on race-related diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) targets, according to analysis conducted by DEI comparison website Windō, in the run-up to the four-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder (25 May 2024).

Just 18 out of 500 global companies have made significant improvements in black workforce representation, Windō analysts have claimed.

Of the 63 Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 companies that shared their black workforce data since 2020, half have increased representation by less than 5%, according to the Windō team's research.

The team reviewed data from more than 500 global companies, and stated that those companies had not met the race-related DEI targets made by company leaders in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder.

When focusing on UK companies, the Windō team identified four – Clifford Chance, Deloitte, HSBC and Standard Chartered – as having significantly increased their number of black senior leaders over the last four years. Increases from these four companies ranged from between 92% and 100%.

Read more: Are DEI initiatives driven by fear of doing the wrong thing? HR responds

But even if targets are missed, businesses do have a responsibility to set targets for racial inclusion, according to Sandra Kerr, race director for the responsible business network Business in the Community.

Kerr told HR magazine: “Data shows that one in five working-age adults in the UK come from a black, Asian, mixed race or other ethnically diverse background. 

“It is the responsibility of businesses to ensure that the UK workforce is reflective of the wider UK working-age population at all levels, but unfortunately this is not the case, with only one in 10 people in senior positions coming from an ethnically diverse background. 

"Employers should ensure that race-related DEI targets consider the make-up of the population locally and across their region, and are both ambitious and realistic, so that they are achievable."

Ken Janssens, cofounder of Windō, said that data is essential to tracking the progress of race-related DEI targets.

He told HR magazine: "Without the necessary data and tracking, it’s impossible for organisations to understand the progress of their race-related DEI targets.

"By adopting both a quantitative and qualitative approach, HR teams can play a critical role in logging, scrutinising and reflecting on DEI data, which can help keep organisations on track to meet their targets and pledges."

Read more: Diversity and inclusion: “Stay the course”

He added that HR should regularly review targets.

"This depends on the size of the organisation but targets should at least be reviewed annually," said Janssens, "to ensure that diverse racial groups are adequately represented across all rungs of the ladder, especially in leadership positions.

"Alongside this quantitative data, regular and anonymous employee surveys should be run, to understand the lived experience for each diverse group, including those from an ethnic minority."

Emma Obanye, CEO of OneTech, a non-profit for entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds, added that HR should embed racial inclusion into their culture, to meet long-term DEI targets.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Despite even the best of intentions, change doesn’t happen overnight when it comes to DEI targets. That’s why HR teams need to remain committed to race-related targets for the long run.

"By embodying a long-term commitment to race-related targets, and not giving up when progress takes longer than hoped, HR teams can ensure that DEI initiatives don’t become reactive measures or marketing ploys, and instead that they are treated as integral components of organisational culture."