Over 600 reasons to complete the Race at Work 2021 Survey

Post author image. Sandra Kerr
Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Equality Director, Business in the Community (BITC) urges employees to take the Race at Work 2021 Survey and share experiences of inclusion, progression, and race at work.

The International Day For the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was established in 1960 following the killing of 69 peaceful protesters against apartheid in South Africa. It is important that we do not forget, and we do not allow future generations to forget.

Following Business in the Community’s (BITC) Race at Work 2018 survey and scorecard report the milestone of 600 employers signing the Race at Work Charter has been surpassed. 

Representing 18 sectors and more than 5.5 million employees, these organisations have recognised it is time for change and committed to the five Charter calls to action. These include:

  • Leadership: As leaders live up to their commitments to be transparent, accountable, and authentic, we know actions speak louder than words.  Practical actions such as two-way and reciprocal mentoring relationships help to share influence and opportunities and learn from peoples’ lived experiences.  It takes a brave and humble leader to listen, and not be the expert in all conversations despite having ‘seniority’.
  • Data transparency: With 2021 being a Census year, I look forward to seeing the results. In past years, ethnicity data has been some of the last sets of insight published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).  My hope is that ethnicity data will be pushed to the front of the queue in light of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on ethnic minority communities¹. With widespread recognition of the need to include black people at all levels across UK industry and society we continue to call on the government to implement mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. We are not alone is this. 73% of employers said that we need action in response to a national consultation in January 2019². Together with 30 business leaders, we called on this action in an open letter to the Prime Minister in October 2020.
  • Zero tolerance on bullying and harassment: One in four employees from ethnic minority backgrounds are likely to have witnessed or experienced bullying and harassment from their managers³. Employer policy and practice should require bullying and harassment to be stamped out in all forms. This includes policy on employee treatment from customers and clients. Ensuring a culture of inclusion is vital so employees feel they belong and have a voice.
  • Managers promoting equality: This continues to be a stubbornly stagnant area. Managers are often the gatekeepers to opportunity, encouragement, and inspiration. But if their key business objectives do not include leading an effective and inclusive team, it may not be seen as a priority. Managers must take ownership and promote racial equality.
  • Progressing ethnic minority talentRace at the Top Revisited and the Race at Work: Black Voices Report found that less than 2% of leaders around the top tables of business, education, judiciary, policing are black. The UK still has a distance to travel to demonstrate it is walking the talk on fairness, access, opportunity, and inclusion for all.

Instead of bristling about references to systemic or structural barriers, or deny that there is any such thing, we need to put our heads together, target resources and focus on how we can break down barriers to opportunity and progression where they are identified. Doing so increases the potential that innovative initiatives will be realised and become the lived reality of everyone regardless of ethnicity, social background, or location.

We want to hear from all employees. Tell us about your experience of inclusion, progression, and race at work by taking our Race at Work 2021 Survey with YouGov.


¹ Business in the Community (April 2020), COVID-19: ethnicity and economic impact.

² BBC (December 2020), Employers back requirement for large firms to disclose ethnicity pay gaps. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55364466

³ Business in the Community (October 2019) Race at Work 2018: The Scorecard Report. https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/race-at-work-2018-the-scorecard-report/