BAM Report March 2021

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Respect in UK Business and Management Schools

1. Executive Summary 

The British Academy of Management Equality Diversity Inclusion and Respect (EDIR) project, commissioned in January 2020, set out to generate an in-depth understanding of the state of, and key structural and cultural challenges embedded within, the everyday practices (and failures) of EDIR in UK Business and Management Schools. This interim report presents findings from our analysis of the quantitative HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) data (collected nationally, annually by the UK Government), and qualitative data collected from a diverse group of senior Business and Management academics and leaders, who described their personal experiences of HE career progression. The second stage of this research project will collect qualitative data from business and management academics at early and mid-career stages and will be reported 2022, at the end of the project. 

This BAM interim EDIR report comes at a time when EDIR issues are, for the first time, gaining significant attention in the media, and not just in business and management contexts, but more broadly in society. This is our society, where we all confront working and social environments where EDIR issues emerge, presenting us with daily opportunities to raise our awareness, improve our understanding and enable actions that will help us, together, achieve equality, diversity, inclusion and respect. The swell of media attention and interest comes from the publication of evidence that shows we are making some small progress: the 2021 Hampton-Alexander Review reports progress made in achieving gender balance on the boards of FTSE 350 companies (65% of companies now have women as 30% of their leadership team and 33% of their boards), and shows the clear bottom-line benefits of such changes; programmes such as Athena Swan, the Race Equality Charter, Stonewall and Disability Confident are identified in the UK Government’s Research Assessment Framework (REF2021) as key indicators of a good research environment. But media EDIR interest also comes from devastating failures, such as the tragic death of George Floyd – whose last words “I can’t breathe”, uttered while being restrained by the police in a Minneapolis street, have become a rallying cry of the Black Lives Matter movement – and the “reclaim the streets” women’s movement that followed the heart-breaking murder of Sarah Everard. These dreadful moments, and the movements they inspire are raising awareness and generating a momentum of change. This momentum is one our community – through its education programmes, its research, and its own actions – has a responsibility to seize, driving a better, more equal, more diverse, more inclusive and more respectful way of working, organising, and managing. We are enterprising and we can make a difference. But we need to know where the problems are, and what they look like before we can work out how to bring about real change. This interim report takes these first steps within the Business and Management HEI setting.