What are the barriers to a more inclusive, fair society with equal pay, better visibility and promotion for those who deserve it, regardless of ethnicity or gender? Sandra Kerr, CBE weighs in and shares how data can help combat...
At first glance, it seems easy enough to create an equal and just society, which includes fair worker’s rights and liveable wages. But human history tells us otherwise. So, is the ‘fight’ (more like the long, painstakingly slow work) toward equality one we should abandon? Of course not. However, it is important to acknowledge the barriers to it, as part of the work to overcome it.
One of the biggest barriers is, unfortunately, that those in power often can’t see that there even is a problem: after all, if you’re part of the owners’ club, how can you even begin to fathom what life is like outside of it?
For Business in the Community’s Race Director, Sandra Kerr, CBE, the answer is simple: you show them the data.
“It’s always interesting when business leaders say, ‘You know, I don’t think we have a problem with X or Y’. Part of my job is, with evidence and insight, to show where problems lie.
“What I’m trying to do is switch on the light for those who feel there isn’t a problem. You can say, ‘You need more black people’ or ‘You need more women’, but their response could be, ‘Well, how can you really know this?’ And that’s where the data helps – we can show through the numbers and responses what representation exists in your workforce currently as compared to, say, how it exists in society.”
“What I’m trying to do is switch on the light for those who feel there isn’t a problem”
The numbers don’t lie
While all data can be interpreted in certain ways, numbers are pretty hard to ignore: for example, if there are X number of qualified, experienced, black, female financial managers in the UK, why are businesses still mostly hiring white, male financial managers?
The thing a lot of people don’t realise when they complain about pro-diversity hiring (formerly referred to as 'affirmative action’) is that white, male, wealthy people have been benefitting from affirmative action for most of Western history.
The age-old, “I hire people for their skill” argument, says Kerr, quickly goes out the window when you’re able to present hard, cold data that clearly points to skewed hiring in the favour of those who are majority represented in society.
Ergo, if we’re really hiring people based on their skills, we would naturally have a more diverse workforce.
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