A White theatre director - who has been given a job intended for BAME candidates - is at the centre of a debate around racial identity.
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon is among four candidates who won a paid traineeship as a “theatre practitioner of colour” to “deliver a comprehensive talent programme of talent development for future BAME leaders”.
Despite being born to White Irish parents, Lennon previously claimed he has gone through the struggles of being a Black man.
According to an ebook he wrote ten years ago, his high cheekbones and curly hair lead people to seeing him as mixed race and therefore he was the target of racial slurs.
Critics described the decision to award Lennon this position a “kick in the teeth”.
The Artistic Director Leadership Programme (ADLP), the consortium that awarded the traineeship funding, said: “We received 113 applications ... and 29 were appointed to the ADLP.
“[…] were satisfied Anthony was eligible for the opportunity as a result of a relationship with him over a number years, in which he has identified as a mixed-heritage individual.” The Arts Council added that:
“This is a very unusual case and we do not think it undermines the support we provide to black and minority ethnic people within the theatre sector.”
The news might worry HR practitioners who are already aware of the hurdles that BAME candidates face when attempting to get into the world of work.
Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the UK face a jobs gap. Last year, research from the Resolution Foundation found that Pakistani and Bangladeshi graduates are about 12% less likely to be in work than White British graduates, while Black Carribean graduates have a jobs gap of circa five per cent.
Furthermore, in the UK just three per cent of the most powerful and influential people are from BAME groups despite making up almost 13% of the population.