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Fewer than 2% in positions of authority come from black or mixed-race backgrounds

OBV Founder Lord Simon Wooley. Credit : MDX University

According to the analysis conducted by Operation Black Vote Color of Power 2021, less than 2% of those in positions of power in the UK are from black or mixed-race origins. This explains why there are 21 (twenty-one) black and/or mixed-race people among the 1159 people in high-ranking jobs in the UK.

When Operation Black Vote published ‘The Color of Power' in 2017, it believed that the stark representation of what power looked like in both racial and gender dimensions would start an unstoppable dialogue that would inevitably lead to good change.

Even after three years, our data revealed little had changed, so that stark realization wasn't enough.

However, in the last 12 to 18 months, the dial has begun to move faster than it has in the past. As a result, a comparison of today's snapshot to four years ago shows a doubling of British Black, Asian, and minority ethnic faces in extremely high places. We were at 36 in 2017, and now we're at 73, which is tantalizingly close to double.

The most major change has been in politics, where both Labour and the Conservatives have made big and good improvements. The Conservative Government now has 6 BAME Cabinet members and 7 Ministers, whereas Labour has 4 BAME Mayors and 1 Council Leader among their constituencies.

Vice Chancellors (6), NHS trusts (3), Consultancy firms (3), FTSE 100 firms (6), and Trade Unions (2) are among the areas that have witnessed tiny but significant improvements (2)

Asian men are the ethnic group that has experienced the greatest increase. However, the number of BAME women has increased dramatically, from a low of (7) to a high of (18). Women have improved in general, but not as much as one might think in a four-year period, rising from 23% to 27%.

According to the report, Kwasi Kwarteng, Kemi Badenoch, Vaughan Gething, Festus Akinbusoye, Maheta Molango, Patrick Roach, Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Ade Adetosoye OBE, Althea Loderick, Mel Barrett, Ian Thomas CBE, Kim Smith, Marvin Rees, Owen Williams, Segun Osuntokun, Edward Enninful, Nuno Espir

“OBV not only wishes to congratulate these individuals, but we also hope that they will serve as role models and beacons for others to follow,” stated OBV Director Simon Woolley. We recognize that there is still much more to be done. We can make a difference if we work together.”

Festus Akinbuysoyte is one of those whose position has added significance. Festus Akinbusoye, the first and only black Police and Crime Commissioner in the UK, was elected in May to Bedfordshire's PCC election at a time when the relationship between black Britons and policing is under investigation. He served as a Special Constable with Bedfordshire Police for over 400 hours, the majority of which were spent on frontline reaction duties as an officer.

After being appointed to the cabinet as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Energy, Kwasi Kwarteng entered the 2021 Colour of Power. In January, he took over as COP26 president from Alok Sharma, who had taken on the post full-time. Kwarteng is the first black secretary of state for the conservatives and the only black member of the Cabinet. He was originally elected to parliament for Spelthorne in 2010, and has since been re-elected three times: in 2015, 2017, and the 2019 General Elections.

Patrick Viera, a former Arsenal captain, is one of only two black or mixed-race Premier League managers featured in the film The Colour of Power. Viera began his management career at New York City FC before returning to Nice to take over. The next Crystal Palace manager will be aiming for further success in London after earning the chance to succeed Roy Hodgson. His appointment as the Premier League's eighth full-time black or mixed-raced manager has reignited efforts to remedy under-representation in the top tier.

Following May's cabinet change, Vaughan Gething, who appeared in the Colour of Power 2017 as Welsh Health Minister, will return as Economy Minister in 2021. First Minister Mark Drakeford described his effort to taking Wales through the peak of the outbreak as "amazing." Gething's position in the government and, indeed, the Senedd, conceals a broader malaise in the fight for representation in Welsh politics. He is the sole black or mixed-race member of the cabinet, and one of just three non-white members of the Senedd, alongside Altaf Hussein and Natasha Asghar.


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