Barely 3% of Britain’s most powerful and influential people are from black and minority ethnic groups, according to a broad new analysis that highlights startling inequality despite decades of legislation to address discrimination. From a list of just over 1,000 of the UK’s top political, financial, judicial, cultural and security figures drawn up by the Guardian in partnership with Operation Black Vote and in consultation with academics, only 36 (3.4%) were from ethnic minorities (BAME). Just seven (0.7%) were BAME women.
The numbers betray a grotesque disconnect with the composition of the UK population, almost 13% of which has a minority background. In some sectors – the police, military, supreme court and security services as well as top consultancies and law firms – there were no non-white supremos at all.
Equality advocates said the new study shone a light on the glass ceilings, subtle discrimination and “affinity bias” that minorities face as a matter of course in their careers. The toll is severe, on individuals, communities, and society as a whole, they said. “We need to ensure that every young person has a role model they can look up to,” said the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, one of the 36. “It’s so important to promote the successful figures from Britain’s BAME communities. We need to create a sense of optimism, aspiration and hope.”