Beyond the Black Square
News 24th January 2020 3 minutes read
Why I’m sponsoring a BAME Master’s scholarship
By Raj Tulsiani, CEO and Co-founder of Green Park
I have recently taken the decision to sponsor a scholarship for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) applicants for a Masters in History with Oxford University. I’m proud to give philanthropic support and I believe this scholarship is an important step to helping talented, diverse leaders take their rightful place in the UK’s boardrooms.
The scholarship will provide a fully funded opportunity for a postgraduate BAME student and will be awarded on the basis of academic excellence. It has been created in partnership with Somerville College and the University of Oxford’s Faculty of History and will begin in October 2020. The statistics show that this scholarship is sorely needed: BAME students are under-represented on taught postgraduate History degrees at UK universities (accounting for 9.3% of all students in the discipline, compared with 22% across all subjects). 1 At Oxbridge and Russell Group universities generally, the proportion of BAME students is lower than across the broader HE sector.2 Through the scholarship I aim to change these figures and improve access to postgraduate study at the highest level. I want to widen the gate for the brightest and the best BAME talent – and right now, that’s critical.
Why? Because our research shows that many of Britain’s leading companies continue to lack diversity at leadership level. Green Park’s recently released Leadership 10,000 Report revealed that the total number of BAME Board members in the FTSE100 has dropped – from nearly 9% in 2018 to 7.4% in 2019. What’s more, in the six years since Green Park’s first Leadership 10,000 Report in 2014, the figure has only marginally increased from 6.2%. When it comes to BAME Chairs, CEOs and CFOs, the statistics aren’t much better at 3.3%. Again, there has been no improvement in the last six years. The Leadership Report also showed that that BAME representation at Top 100 Level is flat year-on-year, at 10.7% in 2019 compared to 10.6% in 2018. And as of now, 47 companies have no ethnic minority leadership at Board or Executive level whatsoever. The chances of meeting the Government-backed target set out by Sir John Parker of no all white-boards by 2021 are looking slim.
It’s clear that ethnic minorities are being left out of the Boardroom – and this needs to change. Today’s UK is a richly diverse place and for organisations to thrive, their Boards need to reflect this. My goal is for Green Park to place a diverse leader on a Board every day by 2025. For that to happen, we need a strong and diverse leadership pipeline that will become the robust, inclusive and representative Board of tomorrow. That pipeline starts at grass roots level with top universities. We need to give BAME students the chance to access the best of higher education so they can go on to build a future Britain as successful leaders.
Having the capability to support more diversity through this postgraduate scholarship is a step in the right direction and what better college to be in partnership with than with Somerville College. A former women’s College that was founded to ‘include the excluded’ and so its values are very much in harmony with Green Park’s. The College’s website reads:
“Somerville was created for women when universities refused them entry, and for people of diverse beliefs when the establishment religion was widely demanded. Now its students represent the world and many Somervillians go on to change that world, too.”
I cannot think of an institution that’s more in line with our business’s beliefs and thinking.
My motivations for creating this scholarship extend far beyond using big names to find talent. It may have been a long time since I lived above my families shop in West Croydon, but the lessons I learnt growing up have impressed on me that while talent may be everywhere; opportunity is not. This scholarship is not about ticking boxes or political correctness. It’s part of my personal contribution to increasing opportunity.
The Raj Tulsiani scholarship for a Masters in History will begin in the academic year starting in October 2020.