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Thinking about race and equality in the workforce with Black Professionals Scotland.

AAI’s Nick Murray speaks with Joshua Adeyemi from Black Professionals Scotland about racial diversity and employment in Scotland. 

Here are Nick’s follow-up thoughts.

Since the global exposure of the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020 there has been a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and the topics of equality, racism and privellage.

To expand on the research I mentioned, the employment rate for minority ethnic groups in Scotland is 15% lower than that of the white population, and significantly worse for minority ethnic women, whose employment rate is 20% lower than white women. On average, minority ethnic employees are paid 10% less than their white counterparts*.

While many companies are now making a huge effort be more inclusive, there are still lots that don’t see this as an urgent matter, or the potential upside of embracing diversity.

The economic benefits are clear. Businesses in the top quarter of companies with the highest racial diversity are 36% more likely to experience higher profit than their competitors. Businesses in the same bracket with high gender diversity were 25% more likely to experience higher profit**.

Will we get to the point where we see a company of all-white males and feel sorry for their potential success?

My colleague Viana Maya says you should ‘tidy up your own house before you invite people over’, and I love that metaphor as a message to businesses, of all sizes, to think about their recruitment practices and workplace culture before they make a push in ‘diversity hiring’.

While ‘diversity’ (the makeup of your people) is undoubtedly important, ‘inclusion’ is what matters in the long run.

Creating an environment where people, regardless of their age, race, gender or background, are given a seat at the table, a chance to speak, and the opportunities to be the best version of themselves is key to encouraging innovation and a more prosperous and sustainable working dynamic.

Working with AAI EmployAbility over the last four years has really opened my eyes to the inequality in the job market, but also how reasonably easy actions can cause hugely positive ripple effects for promoting diversity and inclusion in a business.

In speaking to HR representatives from large businesses more recently, it’s been interesting to hear that although they are often pleased with the diversity of candidates they attract to their business, that people from minority ethnic backgrounds aren’t getting through interviews or staying long in the company. There are many reasons for that and, in my experience, it is very hard to find the answers without outside, partisan support.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Do you feel you have experienced barriers to employment because of your race?

Has your business focussed more on inclusion since the BLM protests?

What steps do you think we can take to ensure equality of opportunity in the Scottish workforce?

Find out what AAI EmployAbility is doing to help businesses across the UK embrace the benefits of a diverse workforce here.

Black Professionals Scotland exists to empower black professionals with skills and information to be the best they can within their chosen careers. Follow BPS on Linkedin here.

Here’s some discussion on why #DiversityWorks from employers and business leaders from a pre-COVID in-person event.

*Report Reference: Taking Stock – Race Equality in Scotland, Runnymede Trust, 29 May 2020,

**Report Reference: Delivering Through Diversity, McKinsey & Company


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