Telecoms giant BT is under fire after a top executive declared that plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs in rural East Anglia while hiring new staff in major cities is to boost its workforce diversity. The Mail has the story.
In comments leaked to the Mail on Sunday, Howard Watson, BT’s Chief Networks Officer, suggested that a “significant factor” in choosing where to locate major offices was the ethnic diversity of the area.
One Tory MP yesterday accused BT of “pandering to political correctness” and warned it could be illegally discriminating against white staff.
It comes as the MoS can reveal that BT’s new Chief Executive, Allison Kirkby, could pocket up to £220,000 in bonus payments specifically linked to “diversity and inclusion” targets.
BT unveiled controversial plans in July to cut up to 1,100 jobs from its 2,900-strong base in Martlesham, near Ipswich, as part of a major overhaul of its offices called the ‘Better Workplace Programme’. Under the blueprint, some of the staff affected will be offered the chance to move to “strategic hub” cities including London, Birmingham and Manchester.
A recording obtained by the MoS details Mr. Watson telling staff the headcount reduction is a “shocking number”, but adds that BT would be able to recruit new workers in “many more places” which would “improve diversity inclusion over time”.
Asked whether boosting diversity and inclusion was a key reason for relocating jobs, Mr. Watson replies: “That was a significant factor in the choice of the locations.”
Martlesham is 95.8% white, according to latest figures – in contrast, Birmingham is 48.7% white.
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