Jul 8 2014

Race at the Top

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Last month Race for Opportunity, the race equality campaign from Business in the Community, launched the Race at the Top report, the most comprehensive picture of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation in leadership in UK business today. The report follows the ‘Race to the Top’ research published five years ago, which warned that if action was not taken to address the gap between BAME managers and senior managers and their representation in the general population, it would only continue to widen. Sandra Kerr OBE, director of Race for Opportunity shares the disappointing progress it highlighted.

race_at_the_topv3_0‘Race at the Top’ found that sadly, this has proved that the gap has widened, with the gap at management level widening between 2007 and 2012. Whilst one in 10 of the UK workforce comes from a BAME background, they hold just one in 13 management roles and one in 16 senior management posts.

We also found that BAME management remains concentrated in just three sectors, with three-quarters of BAME managers and senior managers working in public administration, education & health; banking, finance & insurance; or distribution, hotels & restaurants. Meanwhile, representation in sectors such as construction, manufacturing and energy & water has seen minimal change, suggesting these sectors need to do more work to attract BAME candidates. There is also still chronic BAME under-representation in the media, legal sector and politics.

Despite some good news, such as the increase in BAME managers in banking and finance and 10% of supervisors coming from BAME backgrounds, the 2007 management pipeline has not reached its full potential. There are still significant barriers to BAME progression and leadership is disproportionately skewed towards certain sectors and against specific ethnic groups.

By 2051 one in five people in the UK will come from a BAME background, representing a scale of consumer spending and political voting power that politicians and businesses cannot afford to ignore. Whilst we cannot allow the gap to widen further, little will change unless action is taken now. This is not about moral pleading, but rather about good business sense.

That’s why Race for Opportunity is calling for a government review into racial barriers in the workplace, and for the words ‘and race’ to be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code. This type of government-led action can be a hugely powerful force for positive change, as demonstrated by the Lord Davies review into gender, and is vital to ensure the current intake of BAME workers are able to progress fairly compared to their white counterparts.

We are also calling on businesses in all sectors to make a concerted effort to attract and retain BAME employees and ensure equal progression. The report includes a number of recommendations on how to achieve this, including mandatory unconscious bias training for recruiters and mentoring for BAME staff.

We called for action five years ago and we are calling for action today. Now is the time for politicians and business leaders to work together so that in five years’ time we can say the gap has closed.

You can read the executive summary of the Race at the Top report on the Race for Opportunity website.

Sandra Kerr OBE is director of Race for Opportunity, the race equality campaign from Business in the Community.

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Jun 24 2014

The week that was…

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Several research reports in today’s ‘The week that was…’ – BITC Race at the Top research shows that the ethnicity gap in management positions has widened in the last 5 years, University of Manchester study indicates lack of social mobility among ethnic minorities despite improved educational attainment and ACAS report reveals that disabled workers are less engaged than non-disabled workers.

Business in the Community (BITC) have published the ‘Race at the Top’ report which presents a comprehensive picture of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation in leadership in UK business today. Startlingly, it find that there has been virtually no ethnicity change in top management positions in the five years between 2007 and 2012. If anything, the gap at management level seems to have widened. As a response to this report, Race for Opportunity (BITC’s race equality campaign) is calling for a government review into racial barriers in the workplace that is akin to the Lord Davies review into gender, and for two words – ‘and race’ – to be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code.

Tom Legge, Benchmarking Development Manager at BITC, expands on this report and looks into ways businesses can take decisive steps to reduce and remove barriers to ethnic minority progression in their own workplaces, including having open and transparent recruitment processes in place and expanding mentoring to a wide range of employees.

 The Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester has also published a report which claims that despite an increase in education attainment levels, outcomes in the labour market have not improved for ethnic minorities. While Chinese, Indian, Irish, Bangladeshi and black African students are outperforming their white British peers in obtaining five or more GCSEs at grade A* to C, this has not translated into social mobility. Among other interesting findings, the study noted that Black African and black Caribbean women have experienced a 15-20% fall in full-time employment rates over the past decade and that 53% of self-employed Pakistani men work in the transport industry compared to 8% of the rest of the population.

Finally, research conducted by ACAS shows that although employee engagement has increased in recent years, there was a particularly stark gap in terms of disability with disabled employees being far less engaged than the ‘average’ worker. The research is based on analysis of the most recent Workplace Employee Relations Study.

Have something to add? Write to us – Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk

 

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Jun 20 2014

Inaccessibility in a disabled friendly world

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Does the social model of disability need to adopt an individual human rights based approach? Nadia Ahmed shares her experience, as a disabled student, of trying to fully participate in higher education.

The social model of disability is too simplified, should we now be moving towards a human rights approach as suggested by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Article 25): “recognise that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability”?

Conference participants attend one of the working groups.

© Flickr user UK in Italy

Last week I was supposed to be presenting at a conference in Germany but ended up doing a Skype presentation. Unfortunately, this was due to the delayed approval from the Students’ Finance England (SFE) for providing me with appropriate Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). DSA is an allowance provided by the SFE in order to assist disabled students with non-medical physical assistance, for example, a personal assistant’s travel costs and also provision of technical equipment like accessible software for a dyslexic student, therefore, as the social model recommends, eradicating the social barriers that challenge students with disabilities.

I had informed the DSA ahead of time about my attendance at the conference and that I’d need financial assistance towards funding the flight ticket and accommodation for my non-medical carer/helper. However, my DSA request was rejected on the basis that I was going on a holiday and I should bear the costs myself. I was astonished at receiving such an immature response. Once again my disability adviser spoke with them and explained that I was not going on holiday, I was meant to be attending a conference which is an integral part of my PhD studies and that I need non-medical assistance in dressing, using the toilet, eating, etc.

Apparently the SFE needed details of my disability requirements, I thought they were already aware of my disability and requirements as they do an assessment at the beginning of the course in order to eradicate barriers that would stop students with disabilities to move forward within education. The DSA’s provisions are good from a social model of disability perspective but this approach towards equality tends to overlook individual needs. There is a strong argument to be made to assess DSA through an individual human rights approach.

Eventually the SFE did approve the financial DSA assistance I required but it was too late, the flight ticket prices had risen from £200 to a good £350 and although the conference provided me with an honorarium towards my travel of £250, I did not want to buy more expensive tickets. Luckily enough for me, when I relayed this situation to the conference organisers, they suggested doing a Skype presentation which I agreed to. Although it was a hassle-free way of delivering the presentation in the comfort of my own home, it was not the same as I was missing out on crucial networking, attending other presentations on similar and diverse topics and taking part in different workshops which would be beneficial for my research.

This has been argued elsewhere too: “Even though e-mail, Skype, Go-To-Meeting, Linkedin, and other communication resources allow for an expansion of interactions at a distance, I still think that in-person communication at conferences is a critical way to share information and develop oneself as a professional in the field.” (Rhodes 2014: 1)

Conferences for academics, students or non-academics are important for professional development but they are also “social event comprising interrelated genres which arises in a particular context” (Ventola et al. 2002: 9). Attending a conference involves multiple kinds of events, including presentations, collaboration, networking, mentoring, social visiting (sightseeing) and sometimes even interviewing for potential jobs. Also, each conference is organised in a particular infrastructure shaped according to the discipline, location etc.

This situation wouldn’t have arisen if the SFE had all my disability requirement details at hand. Providing disabled-friendly equipment (computers, printers, library assistance, book allowance, etc.) is important for disabled students. However, as a welfare state, we also have a responsibility towards creating human rights and a morally just society by not only removal of physical barriers but also by creating a flexible system in order to accommodate differences. In return, disabled people have a responsibility to be active in society through education, employment, socially wherever they possibly can.

[Rhodes, G. 2014. Going to sessions and preasenting at sessions: taking advantage of memtoring, professional and personal development oppourtunities, a personal prespective. It's Conference Season Again [Online].  2014].

Ventola, E., Shalom, C., & Thompson, S. (Eds.). (2002). The language of conferencing. Frankfurt: Peter Lang.]

Nadia Ahmed is a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London and researching on practicable working environments for disabled academics at universities in United Kingdom. Her inspiration is her own disability and struggle towards getting employment as a disabled academic in United Kingdom. Nadia can be contacted at nadia.ahmed@qmul.ac.uk.

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Jun 11 2014

The week that was…

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In this week’s equality and diversity news – Race for Opportunity survey finds racist comments in workplaces are rife; BBC comes under the spotlight for its lack of diversity; debate on women in higher education and Department for Education study suggests state school pupils outperform their grammar and private school peers at university.

A survey by Race for Opportunity found that racist comments are rife and problems in recruitment persist. The research also revealed that there are sectors that ethnic minorities perceive as closed to them, including banking, politics, law and journalism. These fields also tend to recruit from selective networks in which ethnic minority people may not be proportionally represented, for example law tend to mostly recruit from Russell Group universities. Sandra Kerr, Director of Race for Opportunity, said: “The comments I received I couldn’t print.”

Simon Albury, the former chief executive of the Royal Television Society, has attacked the BBC for ignoring talented young black and minority ethnic staff. The comments come shortly after Diane Coyle, the acting chair of the BBC Trust, said improving diversity on and off screen should be a priority for the BBC. Albury also complained that Today presenter James Naughtie had dismissed the lack of diversity on the flagship show by saying the programme was “not a sociological laboratory”.

Reacting to TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp’s advice that young girls should have children early instead of going to university, Clare Mackie, pro vice-chancellor at Sussex University, said: “University life enhances life chances, this is where you establish networks and contacts, build aspirations.” She discarded Allsopp’s advice as “no argument at all” and added: “”University has never been more welcoming for women, they can study full-time or take a gap to have a baby. As a female professor, university has never been more welcoming too – you can have both worlds, a family and an academic career.”

A study commissioned by the Department for Education revealed that pupils from non-selective state schools outperform their grammar and private school peers. The research also found that comprehensive pupils with equivalent grades were less likely to drop out. Claire Crawford of Warwick University and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, who authored the report, suggested that Oxford, Cambridge and other universities “may wish to consider lowering their entry requirements for pupils from non-selective or low-value-added state schools”. 

Do you have something interesting to add? Please write to Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk

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Jun 9 2014

The politics of hyphenated identities

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In the UK, hyphenated identities are common – British Asian, British Muslim and so on. But what do these identities signify? Snéha Khilay discusses the politics of belonging in a diverse society with reference to her own enriching experience of having several identities.

I am not an Athenian or a Greek but a citizen of the world. – Socrates

Image of British flags on two buntings with a hazy view of Regent Street in the background.

© Flickr user slimmer_jimmer

I have been given two hyphenated identities. The first one was given over 40 years ago when my family and I left Uganda and came to UK. We were referred to as ‘Ugandan Asians’.  This was to differentiate us from those of African ethnicity. More recently, the media, government policies and the census has put me into the category of ‘British Asian’*.

There has been an ongoing controversy whether hyphenated identities are considered woefully inadequate to truly encapsulate a multicultural UK, where different cultures do live and work together in some form of harmony, with about 400 languages spoken in London. There is also an expectation for the diaspora communities living in UK to absorb and merge into the British culture.

I was listening to a radio show last week where the presenter mentioned an ‘Indian’ caller who had raised concerns about a particular British political party and its racist undertones. My immediate and biased reaction was to wonder whether the caller, given that he was from India, had sufficient knowledge about British politics. The radio presenter corrected himself and said the ‘Indian’ caller was ‘British Asian’ at which point I accepted (assumed) that he would know about British politics.

The hyphenated identity is a term that implies a dual identity. It evokes questions regarding which side of the hyphen the person belongs to, giving the impression that the person is oscillating between two cultures. I certainly have been asked “So what are you, British or Asian?” I am aware that when I am in UK, I am considered Asian but when in India, I am referred to as British and even Non-Resident Indian (NRI). Thus, are these hyphenated identities based on culture, nationality, religion, country of origin or simply refer to skin colour?

In the UK, we openly use terms such as Black British, British Asian and even Black and Minority Ethnic, often known in its acronym form of BME. At a recent conference, I overheard a participant complain about a person jumping the queue at the train station and she went on to say “…that is the type of behaviour I would expect from a BME.” Through this one statement, the participant had totally negated the fact that Black and Minority Ethnic communities encompass a multitude of cultures, behaviours, rituals, language patterns and attitudes. She had tarnished everyone who is not white with the same negative brush stroke, all because someone had jumped a queue.

It is worth considering that the hyphenated labelling somehow does not seem to apply to other large migrant populations living in UK, we do not hear of ‘British Romanians’, ‘British Irish’, ‘British Portuguese’, ‘British Australians’ etc. Does this mean that dual identities are only applied to people who are not white?

There is another interesting concept for consideration. The Muslim community living in UK have been given the hyphenated identity of ‘British Muslim’, yet hyphenated identities have not been given to other religious groups living in UK. For instance, there are no references to  ‘British Jews’,  ‘British Hindus’, ‘British Sikhs etc.  It is hard to understand why the media has made a distinct reference specifically to British Muslims, identified only by religion and not by ethnicity or country.

Some believe that the British Asian identity, in my case British Indian identity, in essence has transplanted Indian identity, supposedly to preserve the ‘Indian’ culture, language and rituals. Others believe that a person who is British Asian is now intrinsically British and should be understood within the context of assimilation and multiculturalism.

During a recent visit to India, the street pedlars gave me a lot of hassle to buy their wares whilst my taxi waited at a traffic light. My response to the pedlars was to politely say “No, thank you” or “I am fine” which somehow allowed the street pedlars to hassle me further. My Indian friends, conditioned to respond differently, were highly amused by my British politeness and suggested that I should have been aggressive by telling the street pedlars to go away.

Have I been assimilated into the British culture to such an extent that my country of origin’s behaviour norms have become alien? I did think my Indian friends’ suggested response somehow contravenes what I had absorbed of the British culture, the concept of courtesy towards everyone irrespective of their status. Putting it another way, was I hooking my personal values into the notion that this is part of the British culture, a culture I am most familiar with?

Photo of two girls - a black girl smiling in the foreground, a white girl smiling in the back.

© Flickr user Viewminder

For me personally, being British and Indian has its advantages, I can easily and comfortably assimilate into either culture. However, there are times when I am very much aware and conscious of my ‘non-white’ status in a meeting or event, especially if I am the only person who is from a (visible) minority background. Admittedly there are times when I feel more British than Indian and other times more Indian than British, for instance at an Indian function when I am wearing a sari, dancing and miming to Bollywood songs and laughing at the in jokes which only an Indian person would understand.

I am aware that I have worked hard, with support from my family, so the incompatibility between being British and being Indian is reduced. My parents have instilled in me the value of independence, free thinking and that there should not be an excuse or reason for being held back. These values and ethics are universal and cannot be labelled to belonging to one country or one culture and fundamentally are more related to an individual’s beliefs and principles.

I have three identities – born in Uganda, of Indian ethnicity and holding British nationality – and all of these backgrounds have made me who I am now. I truly do not believe that I have to sacrifice any of the identities over another. In fact I value what the different identities have to offer and think I have become stronger, more open, accepting and resilient as a result.

*In UK, Asian is used to refer to those of South Asian ancestry, in particular Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi. The Chinese, Korean and Japanese are not included in this definition and are more likely to be defined by their country of origin.

SnehaSnéha Khilay is a diversity and leadership consultant/trainer. Snéha carries out consultancy and training on Diversity and Inclusion, Managing Diversity and the Law, Cultural Competency, Dignity at Work and Conflict Resolution. Snéha has published articles on diversity and leadership in Management Today, Start Your Business, Simply Business, Professional Manager, Change Board, People and People Management. Visit Snéha’s website at www.bluetuliptraining.co.uk.

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Jun 3 2014

The week that was…

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In today’s weekly digest of equality and diversity news – EHRC says employers should be more carer friendly to retain staff, survey shows that employers are not prepared for implementation of shared parental leave, Google has published its first diversity report and British Social Attitudes survey indicates an increase in racial prejudice.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is intervening in a case arguing that employers should make adjustments to support carers.  Dr Hainsworth worked for the Ministry of Defence and was stationed in Germany. Her request for a transfer to the UK to enable her disabled daughter’s special educational needs to be met was turned down. Her claim of unlawful disability discrimination was previously rejected by the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The Commission will ask the court to consider whether EU legislation obliges an employer to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for staff caring for disabled people and, if so, whether EU directives can be read into the Equality Act 2010.

According to law firm Hogan Lovells, only 15% of employers have made clear plans for the implementation of the shared parental leave which comes into effect from April 2015. Under the new rules parents will be able to share statutory maternity leave and pay for up to 12 months. Once mothers elect to share their leave, parents will have the right to ask for either a single continuous block of shared leave, or request a series of “on-off” leave periods. Ed Bowyer, an employment partner at Hogan Lovells, said, “A key concern from the outset is around how resource can be managed if people take time off in less predictable chunks.”

Google has published its first diversity report which reveals that only 30% of its workforce are women and in the US, black people make up only 2% of its workforce. When narrowed by job type and seniority, Google’s gender split is more extreme, with only 21% of leadership positions held by women and only 17% of technology-specific jobs held by women. This trend appears in the wider technology industry. Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, said in a blog post: “Put simply, Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity, and it’s hard to address these kinds of challenges if you’re not prepared to discuss them openly, and with the facts.”

And finally, as we highlighted in a blog post yesterday, in its British Social Attitudes Survey 2013, when NatCen asked people if they’d describe themselves as “very or a little prejudiced against people of other races”, 30% of them said they would. This is an increase from 26% in 2012 but a decline from 36% in 1987.

Have something to add? Please write to us – Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk.

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Jun 2 2014

Would you describe yourself as very or a little prejudiced? Report from the British Social Attitudes survey 2013

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Results from the British Social Attitudes survey 2013 indicate higher self-declaration of racial prejudice which varies by demographics such as age, gender, education and occupation. Does 3 in 10 people saying they are very or a little prejudiced against people of other races mean that Britain is becoming a more racially prejudiced society?

Every year NatCen quiz 3000 people on their thoughts on and attitude towards life in Britain as part of their British Social Attitudes survey which has been carried out annually since 1983. One question their researchers put to respondents is – “Would you describe yourself as very prejudiced/a little prejudiced against people of other races?” There have of course been changes in responses to this question over time but this year it made headlines because more people self-declared racial prejudice this year than in over a decade.

According to the British Social Attitudes survey of 2013, 30% people self-declared prejudice on the basis of race, as compared to 26% in the golden year of the Olympics 2012 and 38% in 1987. Dr Grace Lordan, from the London School of Economics, said her own research based on BSA data going back to 1983 showed a clear correlation between recession and the numbers who self-described as prejudiced.

Prejudice by year

While the Guardian went with the headline ‘Racism on rise in Britain’, others were not so sure about this interpretation. Co-author of the British Social Attitudes survey report, Alison Park, herself questioned whether it’s possible to measure racial prejudice but concluded that “Racial prejudice, in whatever guise, is undoubtedly still part of the national psyche.” Further, if the data is interpreted to examine the longer term average (rather than year on year), it would look like (self-reported) racial prejudice in Britain has been declining over the years.

Prejudice average

The survey results are nevertheless interesting, especially if broken down by various demographics. Broadly speaking, older men in manual occupations seem to be more likely to self-report racial prejudice.

Prejudice by demographic

There is of course the question of what racial prejudice means to people and what this self-declaration signifies. Is racial prejudice the same as racism? Would people who self-declared racial prejudice admit to be racist? Or does self-declaration of racial prejudice mean that people are willing to acknowledge their ‘harmless’ conscious/unconscious bias?

These are questions that cannot be answered through statistical analysis because of their subjective nature but they indicate the need for more sophisticated sociological analysis of the prevalence of racial prejudice and racism in British society.

Would you declare prejudice against other races in a survey?

Source for graphs: British Social Attitudes survey 2013 report

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May 20 2014

The week that was…

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In today’s ‘The week that was’: survey reveals academic staff don’t discuss mental health problems with colleagues or managers, Columbia students name and shame sexual assault violators, racism exists in the discrete institutional marginalisation of ethnic minorities and men underrepresented in nursing, education and social work.

The Guardian’s survey of 2,500 academic staff reveals that academics are suffering in silence from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 61% of the respondents said that none of their colleagues are aware of their mental health problems, with only a slight difference in the figures for men and women. 66% said they have not spoken to someone in a senior position, such as a line manager or research supervisor, about their mental health problems.

Students at Columbia are reported to have written names of alleged ‘sexual assault violators’ in a women’s bathroom on the Columbia campus. This follows closely on the heels of students filing a complaint against Columbia University for mishandling reports of sexual assault cases. They have accused the university of burying cases so as not to be known as a campus plagued by sexual assault, prioritising reputation over the safety of its students.

Over the last few weeks, incidents of racism involving the likes of Donald Sterling, manager of the LA Clippers basketball team, and TV host Jeremy Clarkson, have been in the news. Gary Younge, writing for the Guardian, says that highlighting such incidents sets the bar for racism very high: “By privileging these episodes – outrageous as they are – racism is basically reduced to the level of a private, individual indiscretion made public. The scandal becomes not that racism exists but that anyone would be crass enough to articulate it so brazenly. The reality of modern racism is almost exactly the opposite: it’s the institutional marginalisation of groups performed with the utmost discretion and minimum of fuss by well-mannered and often well-intentioned people working in deeply flawed systems.”

While nationally efforts are being made to increase the representation of women in science subjects at university, is enough being done to address the underrepresentation of men in nursing, education and social work? Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, says, “Female dominance of the entire population in universities is an issue. But I’m not aware of any campaigns in the way that there are for women in computer science and Stem subjects.” The Equality Challenge Unit, due to launch a gender equality charter mark later this year, have said they expect the charter mark to cover underrepresentation of men in certain academic disciplines.

Have something to add? Write to us – Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk

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May 13 2014

The week that was…

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In today’s The week that was: extension of right to request flexible working, ageing workforce may have implications for diversity, TUC publish guide on autism in the workplace and female graduates reluctant to enter male dominated industries.

From 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working will be extended to all staff with 26 weeks of service. This does not imply an obligation to agree to all requests but means that all applications for flexible working are to be considered by employers. This might require prioritising competing requests. Acas recommends documenting how to prioritise competing requests in a flexible working policy and sharing that with the workforce.

The ageing public sector workforce may have implications for mobility and diversity in public sector organisations, warns Louise Tibbert of Public Sector People Manager’s Association (PPMA). A 2013 study from the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that only 1% of public sector workers were aged under 20, compared with 4% in the private sector. Employees retiring later may bring more experience and insight but may also restrict the entry of younger people into the workforce in the public sector.

TUC have published a guide on ‘Autism in the workplace’ to provide advice on how to support autistic staff to ensure they get the adjustments they may need and are legally entitled to. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “All too often, people who are autistic can face challenges and obstacles at work due to ignorance and prejudice around their condition.” The guide also contains case studies.

Finally, a recent report suggests that over the last 10 years, the number of female graduates looking to enter male dominated industries has shown no significant increase. From 2003 to 2013, the proportion of female graduates applying for engineering jobs has increased by 2.4%. In utilities, the number has decreased by 1.1%. The most marked decrease has been in sports and recreation, where the number of female graduates looking to enter the sector is down by 6.3% to 25%.  The number of male graduates looking to work in female-dominated industries has also fallen.

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May 6 2014

The week that was…

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Welcome to the Summer Term’s first ‘The week that was…’ Highlights from the last couple of weeks include: survey finds flexible working can boost professional progress, scheme for professionals restarting their careers after a long break are beneficial for organisations and the need to call out on bullying and harassment at work.

A recent survey from IBM Smarter Workforce Institute has found evidence that flexible working can boost professional progress, in addition to improving job satisfaction and employee retention. In particular, three flexible work arrangements are linked to increased promotions: working compressed hours, job sharing and working from home for at least part of the week. A possible explanation for this may be that employers offering flexible working are able to retain talented employees. Alternatively, highly valued employees may have more bargaining power to request flexible working. Whatever the case, the IBM findings say that flexible working arrangements are clearly a priority for career fast-trackers and can be beneficial to all parties.

Credit Suisse has started a new initiative this month called the Real Returns Programme for professionals who are re-starting their careers after a long break, typically taken for childcare reasons. The practice was started by Goldman Sachs in New York and has since been adopted by other companies in the US too, including Morgan Stanley and Met Life. Participants in the scheme can rebuild their professional confidence and skills in a supportive peer environment, receiving training, mentoring and access to corporate networks. Kirsty How of Credit Suisse believes that this scheme gives access to “a huge talent pool of impressive women that is untapped and has so much to offer.”

Kathryn Nawrockyi, Director of Opportunity Now, writes that everyday sexism in the workplace is grimly familiar: women being discouraged from applying for roles, managers making sexually explicit remarks about female colleagues and so on. The recently released findings of the Project 28-40 survey revealed that a staggering 52% of women have experienced some form of bullying or harassment at work in the past 3 years. Further, disabled women, black and minority ethnic women and lesbian, gay and bisexual women are more vulnerable to harassment in the workplace. Kathryn writes: “We need people – women and men, managers and leaders – to start by calling out the bad behaviour. So the next time you witness someone abusing their power – whether on the street or at work – will you find your voice?”

If you have something to add, please write to us at Equality.and.Diversity@lse.ac.uk.

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