government's determination to create an equal and just society when
she presented awards at the National Mentoring Consortium's annual
fundraiser and award ceremony.
'I am delighted to present these awards this afternoon and to
acknowledge the commitment of so many people in Britain to tackling
racism and inequality. I have a fundamental belief in equality and
want to ensure that everyone in our society, regardless of creed,
colour, gender and disability, has the same chance to succeed.
'This is what the National Mentoring Consortium, and its director,
Norman McLean, are all about; championing the cause of real equality
and opportunity and inspiring a better future for undergraduates from
ethnic minority backgrounds.
'Minority ethnic communities experience a double disadvantage. They
are disproportionately concentrated in deprived areas and suffer the
problems affecting all the people in these areas, but they also bear
the consequences of racial discrimination, services that fail to
reach them or meet their needs, and language and cultural barriers in
gaining access to information and services.
'Members of ethnic minority communities are also twice as likely to
be unemployed, despite being more likely than white people to stay on
in higher or further education. A few simple statistics show the
extent of this discrimination:
- in 1998, 79% of ethnic minority people were in education or
training at 18, compared to 67% of their white contemporaries;
- but an African-Caribbean graduate is more than twice as likely
to be unemployed than a white person with 'A' levels;
- if you are an African man with a degree, you are seven times
more likely to be unemployed than a graduate who is white and
'There can be no place for prejudice if we are to build a genuinely
fair and enterprising society where everyone has the same
opportunities in life.'
In conclusion, Dr Mowlam said:
'As a government we believe that eliminating discrimination, where
ever it is to be found, will make a better Britain for us all. We
believe too that we should take a lead and put our own house in order
- that is why diversity and equal opportunities are a major part of
the 'Modernising government White Paper' which we launched last year.
We must use all means possible to make the civil service an
attractive career option for everyone to ensure that Britain's public
services reflect the diversity of society as a whole.'
1. The civil service is keen to attract recruits from all the
ethnic minority communities, and the 'Modernising government White
Paper' in March 1999, set the target of doubling ethnic minority
representation in the senior civil service over the next five
years. The White Paper is available on the world wide web:
2. The National Mentoring Consortium is the largest mentoring
organisation in Europe, supported by over 250 employers of all
types, universities and schools. It aims to support undergraduates
from ethnic backgrounds into graduate positions, aided by mentors
within business who advise them on the options available for their