Black Careers Matter report launches

Oct 12, 2021 | Diversity, You might have missed

ISE’s Black Careers Matter report launches this week. Tristram Hooley sets out what we found and what employers and the sector as a whole can do about it.

It isn’t controversial to argue that there are unique challenges faced by people from Black Heritage backgrounds when they engage with student recruitment.

In the research that we conducted for our Black Careers Matters report we found that the overwhelming majority (90%) of ISE members agreed that young people from Black heritage backgrounds face additional challenges in the labour market.

And this this finding builds on previous surveying that showed that 82% of ISE’s employer members felt that improving the diversity of their organisation in terms of race and ethnicity was a key priority for their organisation.


Quantifying inequality

The wider evidence shows that they are right. In the report we draw together a range of key statistics that demonstrate the challenges faced by people from Black Heritage backgrounds. These include the following facts.

  • Black Caribbean students are almost three times as likely to be excluded from school as White British students.
  • 36% of White British students who enter higher education go to a ‘high tariff’ institutions while only 18% of Black students do.
  • On average across the whole population, applicants for jobs from ethnic minorities have to send 60% more applications to receive the same number of call backs as White candidates.
  • Black workers earn on average £1 an hour less than White British workers.
  • Only 5% of Black workers are in management and senior roles in comparison to 11% of White British workers.


Listening to Black heritage voices

When we talked to current students and recent graduates from Black heritage backgrounds they gave us more insights into what it is like to experience this kind of inequality.

They felt that when you are Black you need to work harder to be successful and talked about how challenging it is to work in all-White environments. They complained that the education system was not successfully preparing anyone to work in the multi-ethnic workplace and noted that people from Black heritage backgrounds were often absent from recruitment processes.

They argued that organisations needed to commit to more diversity at all levels and that White people needed to make more of an effort to understand their experience and treat them with respect.


Employers taking action

The report makes for sobering reading to those who had assumed that things were steadily getting better. There is clearly a problem and it is one which the student recruitment industry needs to take seriously.

Thankfully there are also a lot of examples of employers, universities and other stakeholders taking action to address racial injustice in student employment.

We collected 30 case studies that demonstrate that something can be done and provide pointers to approaches that can be used.

This allowed us to identify 13 strategies that employers could use to make sure that Black Careers Matter:

  1. Creating dedicated career education programmes and events
  2. Providing access to role models
  3. Improving access to internships and placements
  4. Targeted recruitment campaigns
  5. Changing recruitment processes
  6. Providing dedicated recruitment support
  7. Listening to Black students or employees
  8. Supporting the development and retention of Black employees
  9. Building supportive networks
  10. Developing diversity, equality and inclusion strategies
  11. Influencing partners and suppliers
  12. Addressing racial injustice through Corporate Social Responsibility activities
  13. Supporting wider campaigns and lobbying policy makers

Taken together this provides a powerful set of strategies that employers and others can adopt to make a difference. The report provides more details on each of these and shows how they have been used in real organisations. We hope that they inspire you and your organisation to take a positive stand and ensure that Black Careers Matter!

Read the Black Careers Matter report

Read more blog content on Black Careers Matter

Join in the conversation on Twitter @IoSEorg #BlackCareersMatter 


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