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Ethnic diversity an issue in UK professional workplaces

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The lack of black, Asian and ethnic minorities in the professions is more likely to do with the UK’s entrenched workplace culture than overt racism.

That’s according to LSE PhD candidate Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey, who has spent the last two years researching why well-qualified BAME people are under-represented in traditional professions such as law and accountancy.

“I have worked for some major companies over the past 15 years as a chartered accountant, including Channel 4 and the Walt Disney Company, but in my professional life I have met only a handful of black accountants,” Jonathan says.

There are a myriad of reasons for the imbalance but the tension between ethnic and workplace cultures contributes to the problem, he says.

BAME people are under-represented at Russell Group universities – traditionally the recruitment grounds for many large professional organisations – so the disadvantage starts there. But even if BAME individuals secure professional jobs, entrenched workplace cultures can make it very difficult to progress.

The lack of mentors and access to informal networks is an issue for BAME professionals, many of whom have difficulty understanding – and being accepted into – the culture of predominantly white, middle-class workplaces.

These issues of occupational segregation often steer BAME workers toward lower-paid occupations, and is part of the reason why minority ethnic groups are under-represented in the professions.

In this video Jonathan explains some of the obstacles that confront BAME professionals and why workplaces need to change.

Jonathan is a PhD researcher in the Department of Management at LSE. He is due to complete his thesis in 2015. For more information about Jonathan visit: www.minorityinterests.co.uk| 

Posted: 30 July 2014

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