Nearly Half of UK Black Professionals Plan to Leave Their Jobs

Almost half of Black employees are planning to leave their jobs in the near future, resenting the lack of fairness in their company’s management, according to new research.

A total of 46% of Black employees at UK firms intend to quit their current place of work in the next two years or sooner, compared to 34% of White professionals, the research from New York-based think tank Coqual published [on July 13] shows.

For Black women, the figure is even higher, at 52%.

“Just from a human perspective it’s a sign that you’re not supporting all employees equally,” said Julia Taylor Kennedy, executive vice president for Coqual in an interview with Bloomberg News. “From a business perspective it shows that you’re not actually retaining and promoting the most talented employees — because you’re disproportionately excluding employees of certain backgrounds.”

Firms are bolstering efforts to increase the representation of ethnic minorities at senior levels and pressure is growing to show progress two years after the Black Lives Matter movement. But the report suggests that working environments are pushing Black employees to move on early in their careers, with 68% of Black people and 58% of mixed-race people saying they’ve encountered racial prejudice.

Black professionals experience micro-aggressions more often than their White and Asian counterparts, according to the research, which surveyed 1,035 people this year. These include assumptions that Black Britons weren’t born in the UK or are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and expectations for employees to be representative of their entire race or ethnicity.

Black people were also 81% more likely than White people to say processes such as hiring and promotions were unfair or only slightly fair, adding to their likeliness to leave their jobs.

Frustrations from Black women in the workplace ranged from the lack of representation past junior management level, to Black issues becoming a ‘box-ticking’ exercise after the momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement ebbed, leaving behind organizations that are still predominantly White.

“I’m not interested in being ‘the first,’” said one Black female professional, who was unnamed in the report. “If I can’t see it in your organization, I’m not willing to make that fight because there are other companies I can go to.”

In April, the Financial Conduct Authority set UK-listed companies three targets to boost diversity in their upper ranks, including having at least one member of their board from an ethnic minority. Coqual’s report recommends initiatives such as holding leaders accountable on diversity and inclusion goals through performance evaluations and sponsoring people from underrepresented groups.

“You have Black talent in the UK surrounded by peers, managers and others who don’t believe that they have to work harder to advance,” said Lanaya Irvin, Coqual’s chief executive officer. “It’s all connected to the myth of meritocracy.”

Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, was one of the sponsors for the research.

Photograph: Skyscraper office buildings on the skyline in the Canary Wharf business, shopping and financial district in London, UK, on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021. Photo credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg.

Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.

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