Is Tory ethnic breakdown wheeze good for diversity?

Large companies will be pushed into revealing the ethnic breakdown of their staff under new Tory plans aimed at winning black and Asian voters.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

The prime minister David Cameron has told Cabinet ministers to come up with policies which will appeal to ethnic minority communities, the latest of which includes telling Stock Exchange listed firms to make public exactly how many employees they have from each ethnicity.

It is obviously a bit of a political move to try and make the Conservatives more appealing to black and Asian communities, and political commentators say that the party is concerned that Britain’s changing demographic makeup could mean that the Tories lose valuable seats in the upcoming 2015 election.

So what are the other ideas on the table for attracting endangered votes? One suggestion, from Tory vice-chairman Alok Sharma, is a target that at least 25% of the boards of FTSE 100 firms should be made up of women by 2015, and that within this, ethnic breakdowns would have to be provided for a range of different levels in a company’s hierarchy.

Sharma said: ‘Other countries already do it in terms of the gender balance but we would be doing something new if we did it in terms of the ethnic balance.’ He added: ‘I’m not talking about quotas, it’s about information. All the companies I’ve talked to are incredibly keen on having diversity in the workforce, making sure that they are representative of communities so long as people get the job on merit.’ 

We are all in favour of diversity at work, but is this the way to do it?  Businesses have more than enough red tap to deal with already. And given Vince Cable’s high profile attempts to cull unnecessary regulations, it doesn’t look much like joined up government either. But with the Tories gearing up for the next general election, maybe that’s the point...

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