The Equality Group has commissioned a nationally representative study that delves into the UK’s ethnic minority citizens, their academic aspirations, and the inequalities that still challenge the UK’s BAME community within higher education. The research is launched amidst reports from the Department for Education which found that 80% of white students obtain a First or 2:1 compared to only 56% of ethnic minority students. UK universities will now have to publish data on admissions and attainment, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background. Whilst this is a vital step in the right direction, this support cannot end when students finish university, especially given that Equality Group’s research has highlighted that 75% of BAME do not regard educational support as contributing to their professional success.
Underpinned by an overwhelming drive to succeed both within education, this research commissioned by Equality Group – an organisation that helps companies attract, retain and develop diverse talent – unveils majority sentiments of ambition, academic prowess and unwavering perseverance is propelling the UK’s ethnic minority workforce forward. Whether this sentiment is met by an academic and professional infrastructure is questioned significantly in The Equality Group’s study.
Key Research Implications:
- Three quarters of minority respondents, 75% – almost 4 million people- noted that their professional success is down to personal merit, conviction and perseverance and not the guidance of academic support
- Half of ethnic minority respondents – 2.6 million people – noted that there are no prominent role models of their ethnic profile in positions they aspire/ have aspired to reach professionally
- 50% of ethnic minority respondents were the first generation within their family to attend university verses only 26% of non-ethnic respondents
- 58% – over 3 million – ethnic minority citizens stated that they had friends and family role models who they considered aspirational in relation to their education and career progression
- Over 3 million ethnic minority Brits – 59% – aspired upon leaving school of securing a role at senior management, director and/or board level
- 46% – 2.5 million – ethnic minority citizens were encouraged to commence their career in a role that did not reflect their career aspirations or academic credentials at that time
Societal repercussions of the lack of prominent ethnic minority representation in positions of power:
Half of ethnic minority respondents noted that they had no professional role models of their ethnic profile within the UK’s professional landscape. This is extremely topical yet unsurprising given that the FTSE has just noted a drop in the number of ethnic minority Directors in the UKs largest 100 companies to only 84 out of 1,048. The underrepresentation of relevant role models and the subsequent lack of identification that ethnic minority citizens have with people in positions of authority, largely contributes to the underrepresentation of ethnic minority citizens on boards and the academic disparity between ethnic groups at universities.
Hephzi Pemberton, founder of Equality Group comments:
Only 2% of university lectures are from an ethnic minority background. Similarly, a mere 2% of UK directors are BAME. When we assess the attainment gap between ethnicities, it would be unjust to ignore the stark lack of prominent ethnic minority role models in positions of power in today’s society. The underrepresentation of relevant role models and the subsequent lack of identification that ethnic minority citizens have with people in positions of authority, largely contributes to the attainment gap in schools and the consequential underrepresentation of ethnic minority citizens in positions of power. The fact that 50% of BAME respondents noted that they had no prominent role models of their ethnic profile in positions they aspire to reach professionally. This needs to be addressed in all sectors as this is not just an issue explicitly facing higher education.
It is a shocking reality that in 2018, we do not nurture and support BAME talent in a manner that reflects the undeniable aspirations prominent in this community. As a society of business leaders, decision-makers, professionals and commentators, we have an obligation to ensure that intention is met with action to ensure the UK’s workforce – in its entirety – has access to a democratised career ladder that promotes inclusion for all at every level.