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CEMESME - Contribution of Ethnic Minority Employees to UK Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

Partnership information


Ahsan Malik, DP ManagerBackground

The CEMESME project is focused on employment, enterprise and the corporate culture of British small and medium sized firms regarding diversity in the workplace. Schemes promoting employment of ethnic minorities usually address training and the improvement of the participants’ job skills and appeal to employers through a variety of guidance and skills activities. CEMESME has taken a different approach, concentrating on the ‘demand’ side of the problem. They have been demonstrating to employers the important contribution of ethnic minorities to UK firms and how their rich cultural background positively impacts on business performance, thus strengthening the case for British firms to employ ethnic minority workers.


The overall project aim is to demonstrate the business advantages of diversity in employment by assisting employers to understand the arguments for racial equality in the workplace and to promote employment of ethnic minority employees in enterprises at all levels. It does not aim to identify racism within an organisation, but to clarify the implications of diversity management on the firm’s general business performance and, more specifically, on the SME’s internationalisation.


  • Promote employment of the ethnic minority workforce in the UK and Europe
  • Work towards the elimination of racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity
  • Encourage good relations between people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds
  • Clarify the positive implications of workforce diversity management on the firm’s business performance
  • Disseminate good practice on inclusion of ethnic minority employees
  • Make the corporate culture of British firms more sensitive to diversity.
  • Research Services: orientated towards small and medium sized firms and ethnic minority issues in the UK and internationally.
  • International Business and Employment Training: diversity awareness and international business training courses aimed at SME managerial staff who would like to make their firm’s corporate culture more sensitive to diversity issues while improving their internationalisation and performance.
  • Distance Learning Materials: on international business and diversity related issues. Materials include computer-aided learning packages and the latest multimedia and internet technologies. Specialised CD-ROM packages have been produced and distributed regularly to SMEs.
  • Personalised Mentoring: with the support of academic staff from various universities in the UK, the skills of experienced UK ethnic minority and overseas postgraduate students are used to research specific international business projects for interested SMEs.

Target Groups

  • BME workforce
  • SMEs



Round 1 to Round 2

This Development Partnership was not involved in Round One.


Transnational partnerships


Ahsan Malik, Policy Research Institute on Ageing and Ethnicity (PRIAE),


Action 2: 31 March 2008
Action 3: 31 March 2008

Equal theme

Ethnic minorities


Although not part of Round One, work pre-dating this partnership examined firms with an import/export profile. The idea of measuring the performance of a business in international markets in relation to its diversity profile arose from this, and formed the original premise of the current partnership.


BME groups
Total beneficiaries: 100

Intended impact/ sustainability

Due to the innovative nature of this partnership (a number of partners are national organisations themselves and work closely with policy makers) mainstreaming the work is a strength, providing lasting impact. A key example is the production of a model of the innovative approach designed to be applicable throughout Europe.

Scatter plot

Process X
Practice X
Product X
Policy X
City Local Regional National European


Originally envisaged as North of England but in early stages it was realised that going national would be more appropriate. By doing this a better spread of business organisations could be included as well as extending both the reach and impact of the partnership. A questionnaire (16,000) has been distributed by post throughout the uk to businesses (10 - 50 employees) with the potential to internationalise.


Consultants are placed into businesses with access to senior management with clearly identified reporting cycles and associated action planning. It is anticipated this will have a rapid impact on practice with in businesses as they see the very obvious benefits of diversity in contrast to their existing shortcomings.


As reflected in the geographical reach of the partnership, the research services, training and distance learning packages will be available and thus impact on all beneficiaries and others in the business community who become informed of the effectiveness of the work being carried out.


From its inception the partnership has aligned itself with an impressive number of notable policy makers in political and academic life who are already endorsing its activities in publicity material. In addition, the partnership itself consists of members with a UK wide presence and associated influence on policy makers.

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Activities and products