Improving employment outcomes for young Black men

Post author image. Sandra Kerr

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Equality Director at Business in the Community, discusses inclusive recruitment and how businesses can challenge racism.

Sandra Kerr smiles at the camera

Last month, a group of young Black men were racially abused on social media. Large swathes of the population quite rightly raised their heads above the parapet to express their disgust at the hatred that was being spouted across Twitter.

I am of course referring to the fallout from the Euro 2020 final, and the subsequent racist attacks on Marcus Rashford MBE, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, the three footballers who stepped up to take the penalties. The abuse they suffered made the front pages for days following the match.

And then it went quiet.

Or at least the media went quiet. I am sure that abusive tweets to the three young Black footballers never entirely stop. And I know that young Black men across the country continue to endure racism every day. The day after the football final, many businesses, including Business in the Community (BITC), issued statements condemning the racist attacks. This is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough. What happens next?

For businesses, an important part of that means implementing real changes to recruit, retain and progress young Black men in the UK workplace.

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Equality Director at Business in the Community

Challenging racism

Every business has a role in challenging racism. That doesn’t mean only making public statements against it, although that’s important too, but rather taking decisive action to ensure that your organisation is inclusive. While many businesses are making steps towards this, there is still a very long way to go. If we focus in this instance on young Black men:

  • 55% of young Black male graduates are unemployed compared to 14% of their White counterparts1.
  • A Black graduate will typically earn £4.33 an hour less than a White graduate2.
  • The unemployment rate for young Black people rose by 64% during the pandemic compared to 17% for young White people3.

The distance we have to travel is often overwhelming, but I take heart in knowing that there are many initiatives underway aimed at closing the gap, like the Moving on Up (MoU) project. MoU aims to directly increase the employment rate of young Black men in London through supported targeted interventions, and to generate learning that can influence employers. As part of this project, BITC was appointed by Brent Council to help it engage businesses to champion a proactive approach towards improving employment outcomes for young Black men. We’ve since engaged tens of businesses, representing tens of thousands of jobs, on inclusive recruitment. Though we have a very long way to go, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and commitment that so many businesses have to inclusive recruitment.

The aftermath of the Euros was terrible. But it opened many people’s eyes to the extent of racism in this country. Though the media spotlight may have dimmed, let the issue not dim in our memory, but rather spur everyone on to play their part in tackling racism head on. For businesses, an important part of that means implementing real changes to recruit, retain and progress young Black men in the UK workplace.

Getting started

  • Sign our Race at Work Charter which makes five calls to action, to ensure that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels. (In October 2021 two additional commitments were added to the Race at Work Charter. Find out more about the Race at Work Charter).
  • Read our Race at Work: Black Voices toolkit which reviews how employers can benefit from ensuring inclusion and effective engagement of their black talent.
  • Talk to one of our expert team today to learn how membership of BITC can help you take your responsible business journey further and drive lasting change.


1 Moving on Up briefing paper, June 2021

2 TUC (2016) Black workers with degrees earn a quarter less than white counterparts, 1 February 2016

3 The Guardian (2021) Black youth unemployment rate of 40% similar to time of Brixton riots, data shows, 11 April 2021