The Speaker of The House of Commons BAME Challenge

Many UK Employers are keen for BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Talent and understand that a racially diverse workforce can have a lot of benefits, such as an increase in productivity, an improved reputation and a greater insight into their customer base. As Paul Valery, the French poet, essayist and philosopher said: “We are enriched by our reciprocate differences” and difference seems to enrich our workplaces as well.

However, studies show that applicants with white sounding names are 74% more likely to be called back for a job interview and 39% of young people believe their ethnicity will have an impact on their chances of getting a job. Obstacles like this make it difficult for employers to attract BAME candidates and contribute to the underemployment of BAME workers in the UK.

How can employers create diverse workplaces and cultivate diverse talent, when affinity bias seems to play a large role in how we recruit and develop our teams? On a number of occasions - some colleagues have made an assumption about my heritage because of my name - Zeinab Ali - I am not of Asian descent but I am from a culture that shares some similarities with Asian cultures. I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage with colleagues through the assumption they have made about my name.

For the past few months, the delegates of The Speaker of The House of Commons’ BAME Challenge have been working towards practical solutions for this conundrum and we believe the answer lies in encouraging UK employers to try different initiatives that have been successfully tried and tested among the 50 organisations participating in this project.

These initiatives and ideas will be shared with the public on the 12th December 2017, through the following projects:

  • The Recruitment Guide – Will share best practice on how to engage potential BAME Candidates and attract them to your organisation.
  • The Development Guide – Will explain the best ways to develop the BAME employees already working within your organisation, so they can progress, develop their talents and perhaps become role models to other BAME employees.
  • The BAME Leadership Toolkit – Will help employers examine how many BAME leaders are within their organisation and what they can do to recruit BAME leaders or support them in their roles so they will be able to flourish within your organisation.

The participants of the BAME Challenge and its Co-Chairs have come up with creative ways to make their organisations more diverse and inclusive, and this has been recognised by their senior leaders. The Speaker has invited the senior leaders of these organisations to an event at his apartments, where he will give a speech.

Stay tuned for more updates regarding the BAME Challenge, as the project will not be stopping to smell the roses any time soon.


Zeinab Ali is Inclusive Employers' Office and Special Projects Administrator and has been an employee at our organisation since August 2016.