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Retention of mid-level minority staff key, study by UK-based diversity experts Rare shows

Diversity experts Rare’s research show that black minority ethnic employees at leading firms are no more likely to leave their jobs in the first five years than their white counterparts.

  • Results follow APPG report into female minority figures on 7th December; the findings do not prove that workplace discrimination no longer exists.
  • Figures taken from most engaged firms with respect to diversity show that top firms can crack race equality in regard to retention.

17th December 2012 – Research conducted by specialist diversity recruitment company, Rare, recommended that HR teams boost the retention of black minority ethnic (BME) employees by measuring  the attrition of employees and leveraging the knowledge of existing cultural awareness networks for education and recruitment purposes.
Sponsored by global bank, Barclays, the report called ‘Five Years On’ also called on organisations to make the paths to promotion clearer to all employees and provide mentoring or development programmes to individuals or specific groups who are found to find aspects of the process more challenging than others to ensure fairness for all.
The recommendations come from data provided anonymously by three leading City law firms who have succeeded in addressing workplace race equality with respect to retention.
Rare, which works with leading organisations, including Barclays, Clifford Chance, Google, L’Oreal and the UK Civil Service, has found that BME employees from three client firms are no more likely to leave within the first five years of their careers than their white counterparts.
Whilst the data here represents an improving prospect for BME employees with respect to their white counterparts, these findings are not representative of the country as a whole. Neither do they show that discrimination in the workplace is no longer an issue.

Rare found, however, that many more firms either declined to share their data on staff retention rates or did not monitor this data, certainly not with respect to race. Part of the recommendations called for companies to collect this data so that they too can assess the extent of the problem at their organisation.

‘Five Years On’ used a combination of qualitative and quantitative data, including one-on-one interviews and group discussions with senior BME employees and more junior BME employees. The BME employees were from top firms including law, accountancy and engineering firms, investment banks, public sector organisations, and advertising and communications agencies.

Rare also made some additional recommendations based on their responses. In the face of a lack of BME role models in senior roles, the availability of genuine mentors, the opacity of the promotion process and the pressure to “fit the mould” at work for social events and networking Rare called on HR teams to make recruitment processes clearer for everyone and provide training and development programmes to help particular groups meet the requirements for promotion to ensure equality of opportunity for everyone.

More generally Rare recommended that companies sought to leverage the knowledge and expertise of cultural networks to inform and educate the business about cultural difference and ‘add value’ to the recruitment process as a whole.
Commenting on the findings, co-author of ‘Five Years On’ and Founder and Managing Director of Rare, Raphael Mokades, said:
“Whilst reports such as the recent All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community’s report into BME female unemployment[1] have suggested that discrimination – intentional or not – in the workplace still exists, the data used in ‘Five Years On’ was taken from firms at the leading edge of diversity and clearly shows that, at least with regard to retention, racial diversity is achievable.”

“This research shows what can be done to improve race equality with respect to retention at top organisations. The firms in the report’s case study should be congratulated for recognising the problem, collecting the relevant data so that they could analyse this issue, and assessing the effectiveness of the measures they have implemented to remedy it.  Leveraging organisations’ own cultural networks to educate all employees and support recruitment processes is one of our key recommendations as they are a rich source of cultural knowledge. Additionally, clear promotion processes and mentoring schemes can help ensure an equal chance of advancement for all employees, regardless of ethnicity.”
Commenting on the recruitment and retention, Sir David Bell, Chairman of Rare, said:
“We all know that recruitment is not the only factor to consider in building a representative workforce. But firms who spend a lot of time and money on a diverse intake each year also know that this is unlikely to translate into a diverse workforce in the long term if retention rates of their ethnic minority employees are not as good as retention rates of white employees. When ethnic minority graduates leave firms in comparison to their white counterparts, and why, is of central importance in any analysis of diversity. And a key part of this is how these graduates see their chances of promotion and becoming part of senior management.”

-  ENDS  -

For more information, please contact:
André Flemmings, Communications Manager, Rare
+44 (0) 7939 822 638
Notes for Editors:
About ‘Five Years On’
‘Five Years On’ is the fifth piece of research to be produced by graduate diversity specialists, Rare.
The report, a continuation of Rare’s research in 2009, ‘High Achieving Black Students’, follows this cohort as they begin to enter the middle levels of their respective firms and organisations.
‘Five Years On’ provides an insight into how some of the most able BME graduates fare when trying to progress in their careers with top firms including law firms, investment banks, accountancy firms, public sector organisations, engineering firms, and advertising and communications agencies. 
This study was carried out between May 2012 and September 2012 and uses both qualitative and quantitative data from some of the leading firms on diversity, their senior BME employees and more junior BME employees.
The data
The results showed that:

  1. White graduates and BME graduates were equally likely to stay with their firm for 1 or more years.
  2. White graduates and BME graduates were almost equally likely to stay with their firm for 2 years or more.
  3. White graduates were 11% less likely than BME graduates to stay with their firm for 3 years or more.
  4. White graduates were 8% more likely than BME graduates to stay with their firm for 4 years or more.

The data for all of the intakes of 2003 – 2006 and the spring intakes of 2007 was also analysed to find the percentage of graduates that stayed with the firm for 5 years or more. This involved a total of 1077 records.  The results revealed that white graduates were 6% more likely than BME graduates to stay with their firm for 5 years or longer.

Finally the data for all of the intakes of 2003 – 2005 and the spring intakes of 2006 was analysed to find the percentage of graduates that stayed with the firm for over 6 years. This involved 816 records. The results revealed that white graduates and BME graduates were almost equally likely to remain with their firm for 6 years or more.
Recommendations for firms

  1. Make sure your promotion process is fair by collecting data and checking the trends for ethnic minority employees when compared to white employees.
  2. If your data analysis reveals that your process is fair, be sure to let everyone know this.
  3. If your data analysis reveals that your process could be fairer, acknowledge this and do something to tackle the problem that is clear for all to see. If you set up a programme, involve managers to ensure the programme is properly supported.
  4. Make your promotion process clear to all employees.
  5. Set up a formal mentoring programme to help level the playing field.
  6. Hold events and talks that address cultural and religious differences to ensure everyone within the firm learns, appreciates and understands the effects such differences can have as well as recognising the benefits of such diversity for the firm, both culturally and in terms of business.
  7. Ensure there is an understanding amongst all employees that drinking alcohol should not be expected of anyone, nor should it be forced upon people.
  8. Offer a range of social events that do not focus solely on alcohol
  9. Ensure there is a zero tolerance policy towards sexism.
  10. Offer flexible working options to all parents, men and women.
  11. Create a clear set of expectations and give people the option to meet these expectations while working flexibly.
  12. Provide mentoring and development programmes targeted at women who wish to advance within the firm.

Recommendations for ethnic minority graduate employees

  1. Do not self-select out of the process. Have confidence in your ability to do your job well.
  2. Be proactive about seeking advice on your career.
  3. Be confident in your own personal and moral decisions.
  4. Be yourself. Don’t put on a front. If you are unsure what something is, ask questions about it. There is no shame in not knowing something and in fact, asking questions can make you appear more enthusiastic and interested in things. This will help you feel more comfortable, natural and involved in professional and social situations.
  5. Be part of the planning and organising of social events at your firm.

About Rare
Rare is a specialist graduate diversity recruitment company that connects exceptional people from diverse backgrounds with great careers in top organisations.
It was founded in 2005 by Raphael Mokades, an Oxford graduate and former Head of Diversity at Pearson plc, the world’s leading learning company where he led them to consecutive Race of Opportunity Awards in 2003 and 2004.
The company has in excess of 3,000 candidates on its books, of whom some 1100 are current students attending 40 universities, including Oxbridge. Of Rare’s database, 93% have the equivalent of AAB at A Level or better with 73% having AAA or better, 50% are female and 12% are at Oxbridge.
Rare offers a bespoke service to students from diverse backgrounds, working closely with them to assess their strengths, weaknesses and motivations, and assisting them in identifying their target industries and organisations. Support is offered throughout the application process and beyond using an extensive range of guides, award-winning programmes, seminars and one-on-one training and development sessions.

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