Delivering diversity: race and ethnicity in the management pipeline

Image of delivering diversity cover
Document type
Beech, Nic, Cornelius, Nelarine, Gordon, Lisi
Chartered Management Institute
Date of publication
19 July 2017
People management: all aspects of managing people, Management & leadership: including strategy, public sector management, operations and production
Business and management
Material type

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This report is based on research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the British Academy of Management (BAM), led by a team of researchers drawn from several British universities.

It looks at Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) leadership in FTSE 100 companies and highlights the everyday challenges facing BAME managers, how BAME issues are represented and managed by FTSE companies, and makes recommendations for companies and government. It highlights practical steps that companies can take immediately and in the medium term to develop truly adaptive cultures.


Key findings:

  • BAME people make up 12.5 per cent of the UK population, but they hold only 6 per cent of top management positions. Businesses are missing out on talent, which the authors suggest is worth £24 billion a year.
  • Only 21 per cent of companies surveyed report publicly on BAME, compared to 71 per cent on gender diversity.
  • Only 54 per cent of respondents said that senior FTSE leaders are championing BAME diversity. 
  • Many BAME managers said their careers were significantly influenced by a senior executive who took a special interest in developing them. Role models and mentoring are both useful ways of encouraging talented individuals at all levels.


Seven steps for action are highlighted in the report:

  1. Break the silence. Leaders need to re-boot the conversation on race, show commitment and communicate a clear business case for change to deliver diversity.
  2. Learn from the gender agenda. Business has shown that it can generate momentum to make change happen, with inclusive leadership at all levels and transparency about strategies, targets and progress
  3. Face the numbers: measure it, manage it, report it. Companies need to measure BAME diversity at every level of the management pipeline.
  4. Tap into the power of sponsorship. Senior leaders need to actively seek out and meet diverse emerging leaders to sponsor them and support their development.
  5. Build diversity through ‘next up’ leadership. Role models and mentors at the next level up – not just remote role models at the top of business – can be powerful forces for change. Use innovative models like mentoring circles and reverse mentoring
  6. Be inclusive and adaptive. Build adaptive cultures that respond to the differences people bring to work. Make it clear that the company values difference so no minority employee is left questioning whether they fit in.
  7. Benchmark and collaborate. Businesses should compare performance with others in their sector and collaborate on ways to accelerate change.

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