Black History Month: Not Enough Black Corporate Leaders

It’s Black History Month in the UK and it’s a time to reflect on the progress made in the last year or should I say ‘lack of progress’ going by the experience of the trio of (Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho) the England players who were subjected to vile racist abuse by their countrymen on account of their penalty misses and subsequent loss in the World cup final.

Saying that there are not enough Black Leaders is sugar-coating language and some sort of damage control. We barely have any Black C-Suite leaders that we can aspire to emulate. I know there are a lot of equal opportunities employer for media soundbite, however when it comes to the meat of the matter, how many are really bothered about espousing equality in the workplace.

It took the death of George Floyd to show the overwhelming lack of representation of Black people on the Fortune 500 list and the FTSE 100 list. These cries led to more commitment from stakeholders across the board to be more inclusive and ensure more representation and diversity amongst their leadership. According to Deloitte’s Missing Pieces Report African American/Black CEOs are still only 1% of all Fortune 500 CEOs, down from the peak of six African American/Black CEOs in 2012. The Missing Pieces report, 6th edition evaluated public filings with a cut-off date of June 30, 2020.

Green Park, a UK consultancy and executive search firm, said in a preliminary report early this year, that not one company in the FTSE-100 (comprising the largest companies trading on the London Stock Exchange by market cap) had any Black chairs, CEOs or CFOs for the first time since 2014.

The road to promoting inclusion and diversity in the workplace to acceptable standards is paved with hailstorms and wind gusts. Beyond the mantra and tagline to be part of the bandwagon to ensure inclusion in the workplace. Are we doing enough to promote diversity in the workplace? Are there calculated recruitment plans to make diversity a cardinal point in our organisation? If there is a high attrition rate amongst black people in your workforce, have you evaluated why?

In the past, I remember attending Senior Stakeholders and governance meetings and I would either be the only Black person in the room or one of a few in a large room of purely white and a few other ethnic minorities. There was something always odd about the situation for me. Maybe I am not meant to be there or probably it was just ‘Black Privilege,’ and I should be counting my stars for being one of the lucky few who have had a very lucky career.

Divergent voices and opinions would lead to growth. That’s a hack every thought leader should know. Having an inclusive workplace is a catalyst to employee engagement. When I speak to ‘Black colleagues’ about why they have not applied for an internal opening. Oh well, it’s because the recruiters already have a favoured candidate and the rest of the applicants are on a wild-goose chase and they see it as a waste of time.

Maybe if we fix the problem by giving Black people more seats at the table. And we have more role models and leaders to emulate and aspire to be like. Just maybe, Blackness will no longer be a portrait of criminality.

It’s time for us to have more of these courageous conversations, do less talking and a call to action with no further deaths to bring to the front burner that equality and diversity should be adopted across the board.

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