When Operation Black Vote (OPV) launched 'The Colour of Power', back in 2017 the organisation hoped that the stark visualisation of what power looked like both in racial and gender terms would begin a conversation. They hoped it would lead to inevitable positive change. In truth that stark realisation wasn't enough. OPV’s then media partners, The Guardian - gave the project unprecedented coverage – some 10 pages and three podcasts of coverage. By 2020, three years later our data showed little had changed.
However, in the past 12 -18 months the dial is beginning to move more quickly than ever before. So, today a snapshot now compared to four years ago shows a doubling of the number of British Black, Asian, and minority ethnic faces in very high places. In 2017 we were at 36, today it's 73 – tantalisingly just over double.
The greatest shift has been in politics, which has seen significant and positive changes from both Labour and the Conservatives parties. Boris Johnson’s appointment a record number of BAME Cabinet members (6) and Ministers (7) to his Government. Whilst the Labour boasts a record number of BAME Mayors (4) and Council leaders (11).
Other small but significant changes can be seen in areas such as Vice Chancellors (6) NHS trusts (3) Consultancy firms (3) and FTSE 100 firms (6) and Trade Unions (2) Premiership managers (2)
In terms of which ethnic groups have seen the biggest increase it has be Asian men. But overall BAME women have jumped from a low base of (7) to a record number of (18)
Women in general have moved up, but again not as far as one would expect in a four year period, from 23% to 27%.
Simon Woolley, OBV Director said, “Since the death of George Floyd and the unprecedented Black Lives Matters protests that followed there have been some very deep and at times uncomfortable conversations about race inequality and lived experiences that were almost never heard before.
“OBV’s ground breaking data would suggest that those conversations are now translating into real change in what power looks like. Our data also painfully highlights those areas where movement is worse than glacial. The challenge and hope is to keep this momentum going: Conversation, acknowledgement, positive action. When we do everyone benefits.”