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Future of Work Q4 2021

Encouraging employers to take stronger action on equality

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Sandra Kerr

Race Equality Director, Business in the Community (BITC)

When talking about the future of work, we must address the inequalities faced by many in the workplace.


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. 

BITC has launched the Race at Work Charter; a public commitment to ensure that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels their organisations.

Protecting all employees 

With the Government’s upcoming Employment Bill, we have been calling for provisions to be put in place to protect employees from racial harassment. For someone to receive racial harassment when doing their job is completely unacceptable and has no place in today’s society. 

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. 

Making the UK the most inclusive workforce 

BITC has launched the Race at Work Charter; a public commitment to ensure that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels 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 800 businesses who 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.

Employers must take action 

For change to come about, employers have to take action, set bold targets and be honest with themselves and their employees about how they are progressing. 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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