LETTER:Good opportunities for black Britons

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The Independent Online
From Mr Michael Gottlieb

Sir: What point exactly are you making in your leading article? Are you saying that blacks are not in senior positions in the Army, politics or industry because of conscious and unconscious discrimination on the part of employers?

If so, you are mistaken. No doubt discrimination goes on in Britain, as it does the world over, but you seem to be implying that it is on such a wholesale level as to ensure that blacks do not even get a look-in.

A number of my friends, who head up leading national and international firms, tell me that the reason why no more than a small number of blacks are in senior jobs is simply that they do not apply. The skills shortage, at senior as well as junior levels, is so acute that I cannot believe there is any other reason.

Businessmen are extremely practical people. I happen to employ one black manager, responsible for one of my restaurants with a pounds 3.5m turnover. So what! I am effectively colour-blind and would employ as many good people, regardless of their colour, as I could find. However, if they are not applying for the job I cannot go out and deliberately find them.

As an American who has lived here since 1970, I am convinced that there are proportionately as many openings for blacks in Britain as in the US. Perhaps unconscious preconceptions prevent them from seeing the opportunities that are there for them to grab.

The door is open, I assure you; if only they would believe it.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Gottlieb


Smollensky's Restaurants

London, WC2

10 October