More firms recognise how diversity pays dividends

There has been a significant increase over the past 12 months in the number
of organisations that have a clear business case for having race issues on the
boardroom agenda.

Race for Opportunity’s (RfO) Top 100 report, to be launched tomorrow, shows
the proportion of organisations that have a business case for diversity linked
to business objectives has increased over the last year from 45 per cent to 63
per cent.

Allan Leighton, RfO chairman, said the report, based on a survey of 120
employers, shows an increasing commitment from UK plc to ethnic minorities in
all aspects of business.

However, warns Leighton, who is also chairman of the Royal Mail, if business
leaders fail to face up to the need for a business strategy on race, they will
suffer both commercially and in terms of branding.

"Quite simply, communities equal profitable customers and potential
employees. If you rely on traditional perceptions of who these groups are, you limit
your pool of talent and your target market," he said.

The top performer in this year’s study is Lloyds TSB. The firm has embedded
diversity in its business strategy and can demonstrate the impact it is making
on the bottom line. It has witnessed a 30 per cent increase in sales in some
branches where staffing has been changed to reflect the ethnicity of customers
and a dramatic reduction in ethnic minority staff turnover.

Mike Fairey, deputy group chief executive at Lloyds TSB, said:
"Effective leadership at all levels, not just at the board but right
through all levels of management, is vital to improving performance on

By Quentin Reade

Key facts

– 63 per cent of respondents have a clear business case for
diversity linked to business objectives.

– 90 per cent understand the values and aspirations of
different ethnic minority customers and

– 97 per cent claim to have evaluated this in financial terms

– 98 per cent of RfO organisations have a board-level
‘champion’ for racial diversity

– 81 per cent are developing links with schools in areas highly
populated by ethnic minorities and

– 60 per cent are involved with local ethnic minority training

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