Being someone who identifies as BAME (Black, Asian Minority Ethnic), you may be all too familiar with the lack of diversity within leadership and managerial roles within the workplace. That being said, it has become almost an acceptable norm to expect this and subsequently apply for roles that are non-managerial. The undeniable discrimination seen in the workplace, lack of BAME role-models and a clear lack of opportunities are stand out issues surrounding us all.
Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) identified that “employees from Indian/ Pakistani/Bangladeshi and mixed-race backgrounds are more likely than white British employees to say having a mentor would help kick-start their career”. BAME workers have indeed noted that they require a leg-up in their careers through means such as mentorship programmes, this is clearly something that should be encouraged and supported within organisations as a way forward.
It has become almost normalised to feel a sense of pride and astonishment when coming across a role-model from the BAME community, more so because it is a rarity. As a BAME employee, having someone to look up to that ‘looks like me’ can motivate and drive self-assurance. As identified by the CIPD, “Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi employees said a lack of role models and ‘people like me’ is a progression barrier”. How can we expect these employees to be driven to CEO and CFO positions if there is no one already successful in that industry to aspire to be like?
So, what are the solutions to these clear barriers?
Well, one way may be introducing more specialised recruitment agencies who celebrate diversity and push for inclusion within the workplace. Initiatives of this kind only go on to challenge negative norms and mindsets and provide more tailored support to BAME communities. We touched on Mentorship programmes earlier and again this kind of initiative will only continue to fuel future BAME leaders. Mentorship programmes provide a more structured route to achieving your career goals delivered by someone that has the skills and attributes needed to effectively grow and learn.
There is clearly work to be done and everything is a process, however this cannot hold back the need for change, change in societal norms and change in our mindsets. The sooner we accept these barriers, the sooner we can address them and start identifying more BAME leaders in our wider society.
Career Development and Employability Manager
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