WPP Karen Blackett and Mishcon de Reya LLP Claudine Adeyemi top 2018 EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Model lists celebrating ethnic minority business leaders

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Karen Blackett OBE, WPP UK country manager and chairwoman MediaCom UK, today tops the EMpower Ethnic Minority Executives in recognition of her tireless work creating opportunities for ethnic minorities in the workplace and using her position to keep diversity and inclusion at the top of the business agenda.

Karen is joined by Claudine Adeyemi, associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP, who leads the EMpower Ethnic Minority Future Leaders, a list that celebrates the up and coming voices tackling business diversity head on.

Advocates celebrated for the first time

2018 also sees the launch of a list celebrating advocates. With white people still holding the majority of senior business positions, advocates have an influential role to play in driving diversity and inclusion in all forms.

David Tyler, chairman, Sainsbury’s, is the first person to be awarded top place in the inaugural EMpower Advocates list. David has been recognised for the visibility he has given diversity issues and his role as co-chair of the Parker Review looking into the ethnic diversity of UK boards.

Current landscape for ethnic minority employees

  • The FTSE 100 currently has only five ethnic minority CEOs, yet there are nine CEOs called David.
  • The Parker Review found in 2017 that, of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100, only 85 were held by people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
  • UK citizens from ethnic minorities make up 14% of the population but only account for 2% of director positions.
  • Fifty-one of FTSE 100 companies have no people from ethnic minority backgrounds on their boards.
  • Barely 3% of the most powerful, prominent 1,000 people in Britain are from ethnic minorities
  • Currently, there are only 3 black CEOs in the Fortune 500. That’s 0.6%, compared to the overall black population of the US which is 12.1%
  • Only 3.2% of companies on the Fortune 500 list release complete data for the race and gender of their employees in each job category and management

Suki Sandhu, EMpower founder, said,

“Our lists exist to drive the empowerment of ethnic minorities within business. Role modelling is fundamental to ensuring equality of opportunity and more inclusive workplace cultures. Those who have achieved personal success have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of ethnic minority leaders, and those featured on our lists are more than living up to it. Through these lists we hope to encourage individuals and businesses to stand up and work together to drive change in our society and workplaces – doing so will inspire the diverse leaders of tomorrow.”

Karen Blackett OBE, UK country manager, WPP and chairwoman, MediaCom UK, said,

“Stunned, honoured and humbled to appear on the list let alone to top it. So many of the business leaders featured have been cheerleaders across industry and of mine personally. Talent should be recognised in all forms and I am grateful that this list shines the light on a number of amazing executives who are game changers.”

Claudine Adeyemi, associate, Mishcon de Reya LLP, said,

“I am overjoyed to be listed as the #1 Ethnic Minority Future Leader. This list shines a light on the hard work that I and fellow listees are doing to improve the working landscape for people from black and minority ethnic groups and such visibility is essential if we are to effect real change. I hope that it will raise the profile of our efforts and inspire many others to get involved. Having diverse role models in business is key to encouraging a truly diverse and inclusive workforce across all sectors.”

David Tyler, chairman, Sainsbury’s, said,

“As chairman, I see it as my responsibility to champion equal opportunities for everyone at Sainsbury’s. From a business point of view we know that teams with high levels of diversity perform better and help us deliver the best possible service for our customers. And from a personal point of view – it’s just the right thing to do! Difference – of whatever kind – should be celebrated. There’s a worrying lack of ethnic diversity at the highest levels in business, and I hope I can help in my own small way to change this. I’m honoured to have been recognised as the leading Advocate Executive on this inaugural list, and I hope that all of us on the 2018 EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Models, presented by the FT, inspire others to come forward and put their shoulders to the wheel of this very important cause.”