London, 21 February 2022 – A report by BWIL (Black Women in Leadership) Network, a non-profit, reveals that nearly half (45%) of Black women working in white-collar jobs in the U.K. believe they will be overlooked for promotion despite having equal competence as a non-black female colleague.
The wide-ranging report, titled ‘Black Women in The U.K. Workplace’ was commissioned by BWIL Network to address the dearth of data and information on the lived experiences of Black women working in corporate organisations in the U.K. The report surveyed 250 professional Black women across various industries.
Interestingly, BWIL Network’s study also found that four in seven (58%) Black women reported having a mentor or sponsor at work. Sponsorship as is widely acknowledged remains a vital tool for career advancement and the results show a relatively low population of black women that have access to this.
Launched in 2020, BWIL Network is a collective of black female professionals with a mission to increase the representation of competent black women in leadership and decision-making positions, in corporate organisations, across various sectors in the U.K.
The Black Women in The U.K. Workplace report looked at four challenges identified by Black women: Career Advancement, Sponsorship, Racial Discrimination, and Equal Pay. Some other key findings include:
Dara Owoyemi, Co-Founder and Director of BWIL Network, commented on the findings:
“Our vision at BWIL is a world where competent black female professionals can truly thrive in a workplace that is increasingly free from gender and racial bias. Some of the findings in our report make for sobering reading and highlight how much work still needs to be done. We hope that this study will contribute to the discourse and engagement around these vital issues of diversity, inclusion and equity as it relates to black female professionals.”
Ronke Lawal, Founder of Ariatu PR and Advisor to BWIL Network, added: “This report of ers a much-needed focus on the specific challenges and barriers that Black women professionals face in the workplace. The findings of the report are not merely for publication - they also serve as a call to action to organisations. BWIL Network aims to hold organisations to account and shine a spotlight on the critical actions needed to drive change.”
BWIL’s report concludes with the ‘S.T.A.R.T’ framework, a list of five actions required by companies to address inequalities experienced by Black women in the workplace.
[S] Selection Process: U.K. companies can reduce the likelihood of conscious and unconscious bias in their recruitment and selection process by implementing measures such as blind recruitment, diverse interview panels and removing unilateral decisions in the hiring process.
[T] Transparency: Companies can improve transparency on equal pay by collecting and reporting their ethnicity pay gap. Collecting and monitoring pay data, segmented by gender, will shed light on the potential pay gap for black female employees which is often overlooked given that black women are at the intersection of gender and race.
[A] Accountability: More corporations should set public diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) goals and develop internal governance structures to track and monitor progress against the goals. Half of the black women surveyed are involved in their organisation’s diversity, equality, and inclusion committee, which signals a relatively high level of engagement.
[R] Representation: Companies should work towards achieving increased black female representation at the Board level. Currently, there are no black women on Boards of FTSE 100 companies. Low representation at the Board level can result in a reduced population of potential sponsors and advocates for mid-career level and senior black female leaders in the organisation.
[T] Talent Management: Organisations can provide fair career advancement opportunities for black women by establishing professional development programmes and setting rules for increasing diversity within selection committees that choose those who will be promoted.
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London, 14 October 2020 – The Black Women in Leadership Network (BWIL) has, today, announced the addition of Dr Paula Franklin, Chief Medical Officer at Bupa Group to its Advisory Council.
Launched in July, this year, BWIL is a network of black female professionals with a mission to increase the representation of competent black women in leadership and decision-making positions, in corporate organisations, across various sectors in U.K.
BWIL will harness the experiences of senior black female leaders, decision makers and the expertise of its network, partners and alliances to inspire and empower the next generation of black female leaders.
Dr Paula Franklin will bring her wealth of experience to bear in assisting BWIL’s Board of Directors in setting and executing the strategy of the Network. Along with the other members of the Advisory Council, Dr Franklin will play a key role in providing guidance to the BWIL Board and management team and in attracting new members to the network.
Dr Paula Franklin said: "Given the year we've had, there is no better time for organisations to prioritise the leadership development of professional black women in the UK. I am delighted to support BWIL Network in transforming the narrative and setting an example for women at all stages of their career."
Ms. Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, Co-Founder of BWIL added: “We’re delighted to have Dr Paula Franklin on board as an Advisory Council member. We look forward to her guidance and counsel as we develop BWIL further. I’m especially glad that our members will be able to be influenced by a woman whose career is an example of dedication to excellence and inspirational leadership.”
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About Paula Franklin
Paula joined Bupa in 1996 and held a number of senior medical roles in both funding and provision businesses before leaving in 2009 to join Marie Stopes International where she was Global Medical Director. She returned to Bupa in April 2013 to take up the post of Medical Director of Bupa UK, becoming Chief Medical and Risk Officer for our Bupa UK Market Unit in 2017.
Paula studied medicine in London at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College and worked as a GP before leaving clinical practice to study public health in the USA. Following this, she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund charity in Washington DC on US health policy and legislation. In addition to her medical degree, Paula has a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MBA from London Business School, an MA in Bioethics and Medical Law, and a diploma in counselling.
London, 30 July 2020 – Today, the Black Women in Leadership Network (“BWIL”) is officially launched, commencing its mission to increase the representation of black women in leadership and decision-making positions, in corporate organisations, across various sectors in U.K.
Black female professionals in the U.K. are faced with unique challenges for being at the intersection of gender and race. BWIL envisions a world where competent black female professionals thrive in a workplace that is increasingly free from gender, racial bias and stereotypes.
The Female FTSE Board Report, 2019 revealed the lack of black female representation at the highest levels in the U.K., with 7 seats held by women of black ethnicity on FTSE 100 boards. Furthermore, the 2020 Parker Review, an independent review into ethnic and cultural diversity of U.K. Boards found that 37% of FTSE 100 companies surveyed did not have ethnic minority representation on their Boards. The Review recommends that every FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 Board should have at least one director of colour by 2021 and 2024 respectively.
Ms. Dara Owoyemi, Co-Founder of BWIL, said, “As an advocate and systemic change agent, BWIL will champion and support black female professionals to have a seat at decision making tables in corporate organisations in the U.K.”
BWIL aims to achieve its mission by connecting, educating and equipping black women and stakeholders with independent research, training and networking opportunities.
Ms. Lloydette Bai-Marrow, Co-Founder of BWIL, added: “The pipeline of senior black female leaders should never run dry. BWIL was founded on the premise of black female leaders being purposeful about sponsoring & championing others and building a strong lasting legacy.”
BWIL brings together a network of black female professionals in the U.K., committed to social justice and change in the workplace. The Network will harness the experiences of senior black female leaders, decision makers and the expertise of its network, partners and alliances to inspire and empower the next generation of black female leaders.
Ms. Abi Mustapha-Maduakor, Co-Founder of BWIL further said: “Community spirit is at the heart of BWIL. We believe our combined efforts and influence will translate to significantly moving the needle in the representation of black women in leadership and will pave the way for the next generation of black female leaders.”
BWIL calls on the community of black female professionals in the U.K. to join the Network and the conversation to effect lasting change.
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 Cranfield University, The FTSE Female Board Report, 2019; data based on available information as at May 2019.