British boardrooms shut out blacks, Asians: research

January 8th, 2009 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 8 (IANS) Boardrooms across Britain are keeping their doors firmly shut to black and Asian managers, preventing them from stepping into top executive jobs, according to research published Thursday.Although a high proportion of 17 percent of students in universities are from ethnic minorities, they appear to face a stubborn exclusion later in life in boardrooms in both public and private sectors, said the charity Business in the Community (BITC).

“We’re talking about people who are born here and educated here and have lived here for 40, 50 years,” said Sandra Kerr of BITC, describing the findings as “devastating”.

The research found that 80 percent of ethnic minority executives were in the public sector but Kerr said some sectors have “tiny numbers that couldn’t be analysed”.

The financial sector has “considerably more” representation of ethnic minorities, she said.

The BITC says the situation was likely to worsen over the next decade unless action was taken to “shatter the last glass ceiling”.

“The government has focussed on reducing the unemployment gap and put some measures in place … but there has not been a profile of what we have seen around gender and to some degree sexuality,” Kerr said.

“Chief executives need to walk into their boardroom, take a look around, and ask themselves: ‘Does this represent in any way, shape or form what I see around me when I walk around streets every day?’ Then they need to do something about it.”

The report suggests that a handful of high-profile, top black and ethnic minority executives, such as Suma Chakrabarti, permanent secretary at the ministry of justice, and private equity boss Damon Buffini are prominent exceptions.

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