As assistance for companies looking for examples of best practice, we recommend the toolkit below developed by the UK National Equality Standard (NES) based on their work with many businesses.
In this section:
Introduction to The Directors’ Resource Toolkit
Considering Minority Ethnic Group Employees Across The Whole Employee Lifecycle
National Equality Standard Framework
Tools for change
While businesses increasingly understand the need to reflect the society they serve, many underestimate the changes required to build an ethnically balanced, sustainable talent pipeline.
Typically, businesses will need to go beyond the term ‘minority ethnic’ as a homogenous group to understand the experiences of individual races and ethnicities within their workforce. While short-term targets are a useful way to propel change, they may need to be accompanied by initiatives that focus on creating the inclusive culture and flexible talent pathways that will enable people from minority ethnic groups, at all levels within the business, to thrive.
In response to these challenges, businesses must develop frameworks that not only improve the representation of minority ethnic groups at Board level but are sustained and supported by broader changes to culture and governance.
National Equality Standard Toolkit
Based on EY’s work with the NES, insight from 400+ organisations’ DE&I strategies, action plans and initiatives has enabled the design of this toolkit. We share this here to help Boards and their businesses better support diverse talent.
The NES, which was developed by businesses for businesses, sets out clear equality, diversity and inclusion (DE&I) criteria, against which companies are independently assessed.
This toolkit sets out a series of challenging questions, tools and techniques that business leaders can use to enact sustainable change.
Introduction to The Directors’
The tragic killing of George Floyd in May 2020 was a watershed moment in the movement for racial equality. The emotional reaction to this appalling event gave impetus and urgency to global anti-racism efforts. We must all, including business, seize this opportunity to do better.
We want our businesses to reflect the society they serve at all levels. To achieve this, business will need to be granular and go beyond the term ‘minority ethnic’ as a homogenous group to understand the experiences of individual races and ethnicities within their workforce.
Only with this understanding will come a response sufficiently tailored to ensure an ethnically balanced pipeline of talent for years to come.
Moving out of the COVID-19 crisis we have an unprecedented opportunity to redefine our working practices and, with that, our approach to supporting diverse talent. This toolkit sets out a series of challenging questions, tools and techniques that you, as business leaders, can use to enact sustainable change.
Short term targets and long-term gain
We know that short term targets are impactful for propelling change in the immediate term. However, we advise that these targets are accompanied by broader initiatives that focus on creating the inclusive culture and flexible talent pathways that will enable ethnic minorities, at all levels within the business, to thrive.
We are pleased to see the ever increasing focus that is being given to DE&I by investors and regulators alike. Our National Equality Standard, commended by the FRC in their 2021 Review of Corporate Reporting provides a mechanism for businesses to respond to their DE&I challenges, in both the short and long-term, within a highly structured way.
Considering Minority Ethnic Group Employees Across The Whole Employee Lifecycle:
Many organisations have been successful in improving board level minority ethnic group representation in the near-term.
Their challenge now is to ensure that this improvement is both sustainable and experienced by all minority ethnic groups alike.
Below, we have outlined some examples of the key questions that companies should consider as a guide for responding to this challenge.
These questions take a broad approach, covering the interventions that will be required to create an inclusive culture, whilst also considering the organisational architectures that will enable diverse talent to succeed.
Strategy and business case
Do you have a DE&I strategy in place? And does this strategy set out how you will deliver on / continue to deliver on the Parker recommendations?
Have you articulated an organisation specific business case for a diverse Board (and workforce)?
Are you regularly reinforcing this organisation specific business case within communications and learnings?
How do you hold your leaders to account for creating an inclusive working environment?
What mechanisms have you made available to employees to ‘speak up’ if they experience poor behaviours at work?
Do you capture data to assess whether these ‘speak up’ measures and metrics are effective?
Do you have an executive level sponsor for DE&I?
Is there sufficient expertise in the organisation to steer effective DE&I initiatives?
Are there clear lines of accountability for delivering on actions within your DE&I strategy?
Have you considered how your employee value proposition will be viewed by ethnic minorities?
Is the requirement to provide a diverse shortlist a condition of contract with your recruitment partners?
Have you sought to engage with high-potential minority ethnic talent within the market?
Recruitment and selection
Has your recruitment data been analysed for minority ethnic group drop offs?
Has the eligibility criteria for Board level roles been challenged to consider what is really required to be ‘Board ready’?
Do nomination committees / interview panels have the necessary support and training to mitigate bias and apply a contextual recruitment approach?
Is the candidates’ experience consistent with how you have marketed yourself as an employer within your talent value proposition?
Can you stay in touch with ethnically diverse candidates that performed well at interview but were not offered the role?
Is the package of support /sponsorship available to employees sufficiently flexible to support individual needs e.g. outside caring responsibilities, family or community commitments?
Are employee resource groups helping to develop the onboarding process?
Do onboarding communications portray an inclusive culture which appreciate the diverse background of its employees?
Has the ethnic diversity of the talent pipeline been reviewed at the levels leading up to the Board, e.g. Exco, Exco-1
What opportunities do you have to use positive action to support ethnic minorities?
Is high-potential minority ethnic group talent being consistently given the critical experiences required to progress?
Does the performance management system include sufficient check and challenge to mitigate the potential for bias?
What third party partnerships can you put in place to facilitate access to broader professional development experiences for minority ethnic group employees?
Are network groups in place to ensure that employees have access to peer support?
Has employee engagement data been analysed to understand differentials in experience of minority ethnic group employees?
Has an independent equal pay gap audit been commissioned? And has the minority ethnic group pay gap been analysed and explained?
Are exit interviews conducted and analysed to understand any disparity in experience for minority ethnic group employees?
When making redundancies, are equality impact assessments used to understand whether ethnic minorities are disproportionately impacted?
Data capture and analysis
Are key talent outcomes (e.g. recruitment, promotions, performance management ratings) analysed to understand if there are disproportionate outcomes for ethnic minorities?
Where data permits, does this analysis extend beyond considering ethnic minorities as a homogenous group?
Reporting / regulations
Does the language and imagery that you use across your entire annual report reflect a diverse and inclusive employer?
What checks and balances, relating to your DE&I work, can you bring into your business as usual? For example, through your Internal Audit function.
How can you proactively engage with third-parties, e.g., your supply-chain or your investors, around board room diversity?
The tools and techniques that drive change
In order to drive genuine impact across all parts of an organisation, companies should apply a holistic approach.
The NES framework is outlined on the following page as a guide on the key areas which should be incorporated into a structured and methodological approach to developing minority ethnic talent.
The 35 competency model has been developed by industry and government to drive change and increase representation.
As part of a holistic approach to improving ethnic representation, we have outlined what we believe to be some examples of the most impactful initiatives. These have been selected based on our consultations with business leaders and best practice insight
The examples have been highlighted on the following page from a selection of some of the 35 competencies within the NES framework.
Use a cultural assessment to obtain hard evidence of the values and behaviours that are experienced by minority ethnic group employees and how these differ from other demographics. Based on the cultural assessment findings, develop targeted interventions to improve inclusion and increase retention and progression.
Be authentic in how you communicate around DE&I. Consider whether your words and action match your intent, whether you are taking a stand on events which matter to your people and how you represent yourself in interactions with external parties.
2.4 Career progression
Look at the current level of diversity within your talent pipeline. Consider the opportunities that you have to expand the career pathways that lead to your boardroom.
5.3 Inclusive leadership
Consider the strengths, behaviours and professional experiences that will be required from your future leaders. Challenge whether the metrics and measures that you currently use to appraise your people are sufficiently broad to enable a diverse group of employees to progress towards leadership roles e.g. extroverts and introverts, those with caring responsibilities.
7.2 Data analysis
Encourage your employees to disclose their diversity data by emphasising its importance to the future success of your DE&I programme. Once obtained this data should be used as the basis for understanding whether minority ethnic groups are experiencing proportionate outcomes in key talent processes.
Identify a suite of performance indicators that you can use to measure the return on investment obtained from your DE&I initiatives. Consider traditional HR metrics (e.g. attrition rates) alongside broader financial and customer satisfaction measures.