DTI urges leading firms to take positive action

Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has written to 500 of the UK’s
top companies to urge them to benchmark staff diversity.

She called on them to join Race for Opportunity, which offers specialist
support and advice to UK businesses, and rates how ethnic minorities are
treated as employees and as customers.

Speaking at the Race For Opportunity annual dinner last week, Hewitt
encouraged leading employers to adopt the benchmarking process to make sure
they make the most of their workforce and appeal to the widest potential
customer base.

"We’re determined to create a Britain where everyone can reach their
full potential; where racism is unacceptable and is counteracted; and where
racial diversity is celebrated," she said.

"I want to make it clear that diversity is crucial – for our economy and
our society – and that embracing it can bring real improvements in corporate
reputation, employee morale and the bottom line."

"Only 18 FTSE 100 companies went for benchmarking this year. Next year,
I want to see this double, or more," she added.

Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton, who is also chair of Race for
Opportunity, told the audience that businesses with a diverse workforce that
reflect the diversity of the community they serve, will reap the benefits.

"Quite simply, communities equal customers," he said. "It is
clear in today’s environment that relying on the traditional perceptions of who
your community or customer is will not always provide the solution to
tomorrow’s challenges, or enhance your ability to compete today or in the future."

By Michael Millar


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