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Employee Wellbeing Q1 2022

Encouraging employers to take stronger action on equality

iStock / Getty Images Plus / nadia_bormotova

Sandra Kerr

Race Equality Director, BITC

When talking about the future of work, we work with employers to find ways to make the UK workforce the most inclusive in the world.

The McGregor Smith Review in 2017 gave us a starting point of how race in the workplace should be addressed and highlighted what action needed to be taken quickly.

Three years on, Business in the Community (BITC) surveyed over 24,600 employees in the UK about the issues that they feel need to be tackled when it comes to race in the workplace. Shockingly, the survey found that Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse employees are twice as likely than White employees to have experienced or witnessed racist harassment from managers, customers, clients and colleagues.

Protecting all employees

As offices are reopening full time and offering flexible working patterns to employees, taking care of colleagues’ mental health is a priority.

To help those who may be struggling with their mental health, we launched two toolkits, the Mental Health and Wellbeing for Ethnically Diverse Women toolkit for managers and the Self-Care and the Wellbeing for Ethnically Diverse Women toolkit. These provide guidance for employees from diverse backgrounds on how to navigate the pressures we face today and tips for managers on how to support them.

We are also calling for the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. Encouragingly, we’ve seen an increase of 8% of employers capturing this data, increasing from 11% in 2018 to 19% in 2021. Ethnicity pay gap reporting is just one of the vital steps needed to ensure that employees, regardless of their ethnicity are treated fairly.

Ethnicity pay gap reporting is just one of the vital steps needed to ensure that employees, regardless of their ethnicity, are treated fairly.

Making the UK the most inclusive workforce

We have also launched the Race at Work Charter; a public commitment to ensure that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels of their organisations. So far, we have 800 signatories, representing six million employees across the UK.

The Charter has seven calls for employers, from capturing ethnicity data to supporting ethnic minority career progression. All those signed up are taking steps to ensure that the UK has one of the most inclusive workforces in the world. If we do not take action now to tackle the equality issues that have been raised, we will not have a workforce that is fit for purpose now, or in the future.

It can be daunting for some businesses to fully understand what they need to do to become a more inclusive employer, but we are starting to see encouraging changes that will no doubt lead to a more inclusive and diverse workforce across all parts of the UK.

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