Employers in the IT sector could be missing out on talent and profits because they are too complacent about issues of race, a new report has warned.
The Race for Opportunity (RFO) report on race and diversity in the UK found that, although companies are making serious inroads into tackling racial inequality in the workplace, they still fail to employ enough senior role models from ethnic minorities.
The RFO, a business network that seeks to promote race and diversity as a business issue, surveyed 99 private and public sector member organisations including 18 of the FTSE 100 covering 2.75 million workers in the UK.
BT came top of the race diversity league, but no other IT sector employers took part in the benchmark.
Michael Howard, RFO national campaign manager, believes that a lack of awareness about how race diversity could help deliver business objectives could be to blame.
"The IT sector has had a fairly good record of employing ethnic minorities," he explained. "There may be a perception that it's a non-issue for them. But employers need to be aware that race diversity goes much further than just employment."
Demographic changes and the increased racial diversity of society as a whole means that employers have to take the issue seriously at all levels.
"Customer bases are changing," said Howard. "If organisations are not seen to deliver to a more diverse customer base, they will miss out on business."
The research found that 84 per cent of respondents claim to be successfully targeting ethnic minority customers locally and overseas, compared with 42 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent claimed that their race strategy had made a measurable impact on their bottom line in terms of customers and market share, compared with 29 per cent in 2001.
RFO chairman Allan Leighton described the 2002 findings as encouraging.
"UK business has come a long way in realising that to be successful the issue of race cannot be dismissed or marginalised, otherwise significant business opportunity, talent and business advantage will be wasted," he said.
"But the focus for the future must be on getting more leading edge companies, particularly in the FTSE 100, to benchmark themselves on what they are doing in this area, and to build on the progress thus far."
Private sector top performers:
3. West Bromwich Building Society
4. Ford Motor Company
6. Gala Group
7. Abbey National
8. McDonald's Restaurants
9. Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Source: Race for Opportunity
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