Summit backs business case for diversity

Caitlin Morrison
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Ken Olisa says diversity works
BRITISH businesses would perform better if they employed a more ethnically diverse workforce, attendees at an Institute of Directors (IoD) business and ethnicity summit heard yesterday.

Vivían Hunt, UK managing partner at McKinsey, told the audience at the event that having ethnic diversity “is just as important as gender diversity”, and stated that it was “an important source of competitive advantage”. She also said that while British firms had improved, there was further to go. Hunt cited McKinsey research which showed that businesses would perform better with a more diverse staff, adding: “There’s a real prize for British businesses if they become more diverse.”

Ken Olisa, chairman of Restora­tion Partners, and one of the first black FTSE 100 board members, said he felt that British businesses had not moved further in terms of ethnic diversity because “I don’t think the business case [for diversity] has been self-evident for a long time”. He added: “Most of the time it has been seen as a civil justice issue.”

Meanwhile, Trevor Phillips, chairman of the National Equality Standard, and ex-chair of the London Assembly, warned listeners not to set too much store in rumours that Vince Cable would push to close the ethnic diversity gap in boardrooms.

Phillips stated: “However much goodwill is being spread by Vince Cable now, on 8 May there will not be a Vince Cable.”

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