Is Britain socially integrated? The Parekh Report…


I was at a lecture organised by the Runnymede Society on Tuesday last week. The lecture entitled Revisiting the future of multi-ethnic Britain was delivered by Lord Parekh. The main thrust of the lecture was to look the effects of integration of British society, with a particular focus on Black and Ethnic communities (otherwise called BME’s).

See link attached: http://www.runnymedetrust.org/publications/29/32.html

Now whilst Lord Parekh painted a somewhat positive picture of socio-cultural integration and respect for individual cultures, which from a personal perspective is something that Britain should be very proud of, the question that did not appear to be asked or indeed answered, is how the details of the report actually feeds through into the workplace? My view is that the workplace is the baseline denominator where as a society we can practically combat all forms of negative social cohesion that allow for adverse impact on different groups of people in Britain.

Look at the following statistics for example: Only 10% of Directors of UK FTSE 100 companies firms are women. BME representation at Director level in UK’s FTSE 100 companies is currently approx 0.4%. Indeed, research suggests that it will take 60 years to have the same amount of female Directors as men in FTSE 100 companies. This is despite the introduction of Equality Legislation over the last 40 years. Indeed, Lord Parekh was at pains to give an answer to a question posed around diversity levels in the House of Lords, where he sits.

I must point out at this juncture however that the thinking is not to suggest that equal representation is what the diversity agenda is all about, rather it is about creating fair, inclusive and transparent processes that naturally facilitate diversity. Targets aren’t the answer! However the core point to make is that all research, such as the Parekh report should be looking at practical solutions linked to the workplace where structural inequalities in society can be best combated. I am not sure I got that!…

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4 responses to “Is Britain socially integrated? The Parekh Report…

  1. Pingback: Introducing diversity FAQ’s | diversity is…

  2. Hi Jude,

    Did you see this Guardian article today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/dec/06/oxford-colleges-no-black-students

    There’s an interesting comment from the Runnymede Trust in the article:

    Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust, a thinktank that promotes racial equality, said: “If we go for this elite system of higher education … we have got to make sure what they are doing is fair. If you look at how many people on both frontbenches are Oxbridge-educated, Oxford and Cambridge are still the major route to positions of influence. If that’s the case we shouldn’t be restricting these opportunities to people from minority backgrounds.”

    • Hi Mark,

      An interesting article raising an important issue…but we’ve heard this all before!

      This is certainly not the first time the Oxbridge selection systems has been brought to the public arena. As a former Oxford graduate myself, I remember questioning the reality of my surroundings and often asked myself whether I was actually living in the 21st century UK. I was probably one of three black students in my year. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Oxford (I didnt go around with ‘racial’ categories in my mind!), but I remained astounded at the clear lack of diversity not just on a visible level, but importantly, in the university’s educational curriculum. As a student studying philosophy and theology, not once did I come across in my studies, in the books I read for my weekly tutorials, or in lectures I attended, a reference to an author or academic of an ethnic origin beyond the western perimeters. I remember I found that rather concerning. It was as though the reality of the lack of visible diversity was in fact a confirmation of the lack of any reference to any academic of black origin…but I know there are many recognised academics other than those of western originations…

      Interestingly enough, I actually challenged Rob Berkeley, Director of the Runnymede Trust after a lecture at the LSE on the Parekh Report on the 23rd of last month on the issue of the educational curriculum in our universities, under-representation and the need for the Runnymede Trust to re-think its mission and strategy of being an organisation that funds research that promote racial equality to becoming one that constructively uses research to make a real difference in the workplace. For me, the workplace is the common denominator here. If we are able to promote fairness, inclusivity and transparency in the workplace, it will lead to greater diversification at the top-tier of organisations, which in turn will promote social mobility thus ensuring that disadvantaged kids will have equal access to good schools and hence greater representation in Oxbridge institutions – leading to a change in the out-dated educational curriculum in many of our top-tier centres of learning…

  3. Pingback: Oxford colleges back in the press again for its lack of candidate diversity… | diversity is…

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