Thursday 9 July 2020 2:40 pmEY Talk

We must do more to tackle racial inequality in the workplace

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EY UK & Ireland Regional Managing Partner and UK Chair

While I’m truly proud to take on the role of EY UK chair, having started at the firm 35 years ago, I’ve been profoundly struck by conversations with our Black colleagues following the killing of George Floyd, which have brought into sharp focus that the experience of everyone at EY isn’t the same. We, like other businesses, still have more to do.  

Race has been a core part of our Diversity & Inclusion thinking for a number of years, however these critical discussions have identified some immediate actions we must take if we are serious about tackling inequality.  

Levelling the playing field  

We know our partnership is not reflective of our Black population at EY and we will do more to level the playing field at senior levels. We will continue taking steps to understand the experiences of our Black colleagues, calling out Black representation when we scrutinise the experiences of our people rather than reporting on BAME alone. Through race fluency and allyship training, we will become more confident in recognising the nuances that exist and getting comfortable discussing race and equality. 

Across all levels, reviewing and improving talent processes, from training and development to performance reviews, will be key to achieving fair and equal outcomes for Black – and all- colleagues. This overhaul doesn’t mean starting afresh in areas where we’ve seen progress. For example, we will maintain investment in our Future Leaders Programme which already focuses on the development and progression of ethnic minority senior managers. 

Targets and data 

We know the importance of targets if you want to create change. Over the years EY has been proud to be at the forefront of diversity reporting, providing the diversity breakdown of our partnership and being one of the first organisations to publish our ethnicity pay gap, and more recently our disability and sexual orientation pay gaps.  

In 2019 we set targets of achieving 40% female and 20% BAME partners by 2025, and we now commit to 15% of our BAME target to be Black partners. These targets are ambitious and will push us to make progress. We will also publish our Black pay gap data annually, starting in our 2020 pay gap report. 

Access to the profession 

Achieving long-term change also means increasing access to the profession for young Black talent. 30% of work experience places on our EY Futures programmes will be offered to young Black people for the next five years, and at least 30% of young Black alumni on those programmes will be given entry into EY school leaver pathways. 

Research and collaboration  

We’re clear that the steps we take on this agenda need to be informed by our people, and we will continue to closely collaborate with the EY Race and Ethnicity Network to elevate the voices of our black community and monitor progress. But there is also an important role for research and external guidance.  

Through supporting and funding a survey of young Black people led by the EY Foundation, our UK independent charity, we want to better understand existing barriers to employment opportunities, using the insights to inform further action.  

More broadly, our ongoing role in the Parker Review and its important work to achieve ethnic representation on FTSE Boards will provide an important forum for supporting other organisations and advocating for change at the most senior levels of UK business. 

A diverse, inclusive and anti-racism EY 

Our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion and anti-racism, is an absolute priority for me and EY. We know we still have some way to go, and that our approach will likely need adjusting along the way as we work to achieve these goals.  

While my experience is not reflective of our Black or ethnic minority colleagues, I am absolutely committed to using my position of power, privilege and influence to deliver on this agenda and eliminate inequality.