Calls for employers to report on racial profile

Black and ethnic minority people are at a disadvantage in the workplace according to a government-backed review.

Conservative peer and businesswoman Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, who undertook the review, is now calling for employers to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace by publishing a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay.

The review revealed:

  • If we made the most of what BME talent has to offer, the UK economy could profit from a £24bn boost a year, which represents 1.3% of GDP.
  • In 2015, they held only 6% of top management positions.
  • The employment rate for ethnic minorities workers was only 62.8%, whereas as the rate for white workers is 75.6%.
  • They are more likely to work in lower paid and lower skilled jobs even though it is more likely that they have a degree.
  • Only 74 FTSE 100 companies responded to the request for data and only 50% of those shared any meaningful information.

The review states in the UK there is a “structural, historical bias that favours certain individuals”. Not only does this affect BME, but also women and those with disabilities.

Baroness McGregor-Smith said “The time for talk on race in the workplace is over, it’s time to act. No-one should feel unable to reach the top of any organisation because of their race. If businesses and the Government act on my recommendations, it will show everyone from a minority background that Britain’s workplace is for everyone, not just the privileged few.”

Recommendations

26 recommendations were made, but the three most notable for employers with more than 50 employees were as follows:

  • set and publish five–year aspirational targets to boost diversity and inclusion in your business/organisation
  • publish a breakdown of employees by race and pay band. The government should legislate to ensure this occurs
  • identify a board-level sponsor for all diversity issues.

Government response

Business Minister, Margot James, commented “Outdated attitudes or lack of awareness about ethnicity in the workplace must be challenged. As this report shows, the economic benefit of harnessing untapped talent is huge and I urge employers to implement these recommendations to ensure everyone can reach the top of their career – whatever their background.”

The government said its preferred method is a business-led, voluntary approach, rather than to adopt legislation.

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