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Saturday, 9th December 2023



Take any profession in the UK, and there are a large number of ethnic members. Considering that according to the UK census of 2001, ethnic minorities were only 12% of the population, the figures below show how amazing the ethnic performance is.

Medicine has probably the highest, partly due to historical reasons - the NHS actively went abroad to recruit from the 60's onwards. One study puts Asian membership alone at 55% of the profession.

Accountancy would be at least 40%, with a very strong Asian contingent, because traditionally, Asian immigrants have a strong interest in commerce and are very numerate. The Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants are the large bodies, and the current President of Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in an ethnic Sri Lankan, which is the first time an accountancy body has ever had a non-white president.

Pharmacy has a very strong ethnic contingent among its membership - one estimate puts it as high as 25%. Here again there is a very strong Indian presence, with some Indians owning some of the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers in the land - Sigma, Waymade, NSL are just some examples.

Dentistry is becoming increasingly popular, with an estimated membership of 25%.

Law has a very large ethnic representation, more among Solicitors than Barristers, with an overall estimate of 20%.

Optometry is equally strong.

There is a reason for this - professions are a very good way of climbing the social and educational ladder, and immigrants are driven as they cannot take anything for granted. Also, culturally, many traditions give strong importance to education - the Nigerians, Indians, Chinese - are just some of the examples.

Employers who are looking for smart leaders and managers need to be aware of the above, and the huge energy and initiative that goes into the making of these professionals. They need to loosen any bottle-necks to the progress of these ambitious high achievers, as they can contribute significantly to strategy and direction. Otherwise, these people may well choose to take their energies and skills elsewhere. And that is when it will really bite.

In the UK service industry, the one organisation which strikes as being a positive force in embracing professional ethnic diversity is HSBC - and its performance has also been very good. Large professional firms such as KPMG, IBM and PWC are big employers of ethnic professionals, but their record in terms of promotion and retention does not appear to match the junior recruitment percentages. There is a real need for strong championing of equality and culture change in many large professional employers.

Article added on 30th December 2009 at 12:50pm
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