Ethnic Diversity ‘Not Valued By UK Firms’

Sarah Womack, Telegraph (London), Feb. 21, 2007

British business is not convinced of the value of having a multi-cultural workforce, according to a study based on interviews with nearly 300 small and medium sized UK businesses.

While a third agreed that ethnic diversity contributed to performance, slightly more disagreed.

The CBI-backed survey by the Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity also found that although 45 per cent said their management had policies for making older workers feel more included and 42 per cent ran similar practices for female staff, only 25 per cent did so for ethnic minority staff.

Small and medium sized businesses make up the majority of the UK’s four million companies. The findings follow a Financial Times/Harris poll which revealed that British citizens are now more hostile to immigration than any other western European country despite evidence that the UK has benefited from the arrival of workers from eastern Europe.

More than three quarters of the companies surveyed by the institute had workforces with less than 10 per cent from ethnic minorities and 35 per cent had no such workers.

Naina Patel, the institute director, said: “Diversity in itself doesn’t guarantee improved business performance, but there is an obvious case for small and medium sized firms to be made more aware about the potential advantages of employing people from ethnic minorities and make the most of a still largely untapped resource.”

[Editor’s Note: The “Summary of results from the CEMESME Research Study” can be read on-line here. It can be downloaded here.]

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