How Many White Male Advocates Are Actually Engaged In Diversity Initiatives?

Blog by Richard Chapman-Harris, Diversity Advisor, Opportunity Now and Race for Opportunity

Opportunity Now’s ground-breaking Project 28-40 has highlighted major challenges and opportunities for gender equality in UK workplaces. My question is: how many men have read it?

Race for Opportunity has highlighted the positive impact Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employee networks can have on an organisation. Yet how many majority white employees are engaged in these groups?

A question I ask my members is to think of a senior white man who is proactively engaged and supportive of diversity and inclusion initiatives – usually they can think of one, maybe two. I think they should be able to at least count majority advocates for diversity and equality on all their fingers – and their toes!

Champion member Friends Life hosted the first of our Majority Advocates for Diversity and Equality (MADE) roundtables on June 26th which brought together fourteen senior white men across UK organisations to talk about diversity. The conversation was engaging, dynamic and challenging. Why aren’t there more women CEOs? Why is the unemployment rate for young black men double that of their white peers? How can we help without being seen as inauthentic or feeling tokenistic? What can – or indeed can’t - we say? And what about men’s diversity – is diversity and inclusion really about us too? And to quote one attendee: ‘How do we move from being white, male advocates to actually making a difference for all our colleagues?’

MADE is keen to do just this and to help translate inclusion initiatives for everyone, while addressing the engagement and perception gap. Research shows that minority groups have a greater awareness of equality challenges compared to their majority peers who may, quite innocently, not see these complexities. When Project 2840 asked whether opportunities to advance were fair and equal between men and women, less than half of the 23,000 female respondents agreed, 28% less than male respondents. Women were also twice as likely as our 2,000 men to disagree. This awareness gap translates into an effectiveness gap that is seen to especially plague white male leaders who are deemed to be 24% less effective at managing diverse teams than they perceive themselves to be; seeing themselves as having a 45% positive effectiveness rating for how inclusive they are but ‘All Others’ (minority respondents) felt that only 21% of those leaders were actually inclusive.

That’s why we need you. Join our Majority Advocates for Diversity and Equality (MADE) project, part of Race for Opportunity and Opportunity Now, to explore and discuss how MADE could make a difference. The British Army are hosting our second MADE roundtable on October 8th. For further information please read our Advocate Candidate Criteria and email Richard.Chapman-Harris@bitc.org.uk to express interest in supporting this unique initiative.