OBV compiled a list of roughly 1,100 individuals in positions of power in the UK from politics and government, to Universities and Colleges, FTSE 100 companies, and Trade bodies. They found that 6.3% of the individuals in power were ethnic minorities, with only 1.6% (19) of the individuals being BAME women.
This increase has been partly driven by the shift in politics with both Labour and the Conservatives engaged in significant and positive changes. The Prime Minister has appointed a record number of BAME Cabinet members (6) and Ministers (4) into his Government. This is most highlighted in two of the traditional Great Offices of State being held by BAME politicians, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Home Secretary Priti Patel. Similarly, Labour also has seen a record shift in the number of BAME Mayors (4) and Council leaders (11).
The other sectors with positions of power in the UK saw small but, as noted by the report, significant changes to BAME representation seen in Universities with 6 Vice-Chancellors, NHS trusts (3), FTSE 100 firms (6) and Trade Union (2).
The report highlights only a small increase in BAME women representation over the four years since OBVs last report moving from 7 to 19 in a position of power.
The increase in representation is welcomed by all and is an encouraging sign for the representation of BAME in power in the UK, however more needs to be done. The report highlights the BLM protests of the last 18months as a driver for this increase in representation. However, access to the routes that lead to these positions of power are still not readily available to many ethnic minority young people.
Seeking to address the barrier of entry into positions of power and public life in the country, the John Smith Centre has recently launched the Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme. Funded by the Scottish Government, the programme will provide 50 people between the ages of 18 – 29 from minority ethnic backgrounds with a part-time internship for 9 months with a public sector organisation, a voluntary sector organisation or an NGO. Through the programme, the participants will develop a range of workplace relevant skills and an appreciation for the value of a career in public service.
Kezia Dugdale, Director of the John Smith Centre, speaking on the release of the Colour of Power report stated:
“The findings of the Colour of Power report paint a stark picture of BAME representation and especially BAME women representation in positions of power in the UK. The progress that has been made in the last few years is encouraging and provides hope for achieving equality, but we need to do more.
“The John Smith Centre believes that to tackle this problem we need to provide access to the routes into positions of power in the UK and that is where our Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme comes in. Through this programme young people from minority ethnic backgrounds have the opportunity to get invaluable experience in some of the leading public sector, voluntary sector organisations, and NGOs in Scotland. The aim is that the experience, skills and connections made during the internship will aid the participants in their future careers.”