Baroness McGregor-Smith, CEO of Mitie, has begun a government-backed investigation into the barriers holding back black and minority ethnic (BME) talent.
Business Secretary Sajid Javid appointed the boss of the property maintenance giant to examine why ethnic minorities find it more difficult to progress into senior and managerial positions than their white counterparts and recommend ways of breaking down these barriers.
BME groups make up 11.3% of the construction workforce, compared to just 3% in 2005, according to a Construction Industry Council report earlier this year. Ethnic minorities comprise 12.9% of the population.
McGregor-Smith, the only Asian female chief executive of a FTSE 250 company, said: “Right now people of BME backgrounds in the UK do not excel in the workplace at the same rate as their white counterparts. We need to understand what the obstacles are that are preventing them to do so, and take strong actions to overcome them.”
"People of BME backgrounds in the UK do not excel in the workplace at the same rate as their white counterparts. We need to understand what the obstacles are and take strong actions to overcome them."
She has called for evidence from people from all BME communities across the UK to help her understand the obstacles in the labour market, from recruitment through to executive level. The call for evidence will close on 22 August 2016.
Businesses and third sector organisations are also being called upon to take part in the review. To coincide with the launch, McGregor-Smith is hosting a roundtable event with some of the country’s largest private sector employers.
Javid said: “Everyone should have the opportunity to get their dream job. That is why I asked Baroness McGregor-Smith to undertake this review and find out why people from BME backgrounds find it more difficult to reach the top.
“I urge everyone who has experience of trying to progress in work to take part in this review. Employers need to back their workforces and I am also calling on them to make sure everybody has a fair chance to succeed.”
Later this year, McGregor-Smith will publish the findings of her independent review into the obstacles that people from different communities face in the labour market, what impact this has on the economy and employers and bring together data that shows the extent of the problem.
The review will also include recommendations to government and business on how BME talent can be fully utilised by employers as well as highlighting best practice from across the public and private sectors.
Contributions to the McGregor-Smith report can be made on the official website.