Race at Work Charter: One Year On 2019 report – evidence of progress, but still much to do

Post author image. Andrew Brassleay

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Equality Director at Business in the Community, discusses the findings of the Race at Work Charter: One Year On 2019 report.

Business in the Community (BITC) established the Race at Work Charter using evidence from the Race at Work 2018 Scorecard Report, one year on from the 2017 McGregor-Smith Review: Race in the workplace. A key finding was that action to tackle the racial disparities in the UK employment market is worth a potential £24billion annual income boost to the UK economy1

The 108 employers who completed the Race at Work Charter survey represent 1.3 million employees in the UK and more than 32,000 black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees at management level. The report includes quotes from senior leaders and examples of good practice from employers in the UK.

There is some evidence of progress, but there is still much to do: 84 per cent of the 108 employers who completed the survey have an executive sponsor for race and 53 per cent are engaged in mentoring and sponsorship. Many of the employers who completed the survey are taking action, but we are calling on more employers to get engaged.

The Race at Work Charter employer signatories have increased from 85 to more than 190 since its launch in October 2018. More employers need to commit to actions against the charter principles of leadership, capturing data and publishing, zero tolerance on racial harassment and bullying, all managers engaged in promoting equality and supporting the progression of BAME talent.

There has been a small increase in employers voluntarily publishing their ethnicity and pay gap: 63 per cent are capturing data and 31 per cent are publishing their data. We need more employers to do this and to publish their action plans that outline how they plan to tackle their pay gap.

Of the employers surveyed, 97 per cent said that they had a zero-tolerance policy on racial harassment and bullying but only 45 per cent had conducted a review into bullying and harassment. With the Race at Work 2018 survey showing that BAME employers had experienced or witnessed bulling and harassment from their managers in the past two years, more employers need to conduct reviews. These should include engagement with customers and clients, as there was an increase in BAME employees reporting bullying and harassment from customers and clients to BITC from 2015 to 2018.

We are calling on employers to: get more leaders engaged; capture and publish data; build a culture of inclusion; and get line mangers engaged and progressing BAME talent.

We are also calling on more local authorities, universities, retail, tech, recruitment and other sectors who have low representation as charter signatories to sign up for the charter and take action to ensure their workplaces are ones in which all talent thrives.

We will spotlight some of the additional quotes from leaders and stories of impact linked to the charter principles throughout October.