Reflections on the year: race

Post author image. Sandra Kerr
Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Director at Business in the Community reflects on 2021.
Sandra Kerr smiles at the camera

In 2021, Business in the Community (BITC) begins to celebrate 40 years of inspiring responsible business, 26 years of campaigning for race equality, and our third Race at Work survey. The results demonstrate that there has been some progress, but we still have far to go.

In terms of progress there are now more leaders at the top tables promoting equality, equity, fairness, and inclusion. An increase from 33% to 44% from 2018 to now1. More employers are capturing the ethnicity pay data of their workforces, up from 11% to 19%2.

We have also seen an amazing increase in the volume of employers signed up for the Race at Work Charter, which now totals 811 employers with influence over 6 million employees in the UK.

However, we still have far to go.

We need to see mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting implemented. The number of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse people who have witnessed or experienced bullying and harassment from their managers (25%), or in their teams (32%), or from customers clients and service users (31%) must be reduced3.

We also need employers to support inclusion allies that want to promote race equality and support them. One in four employees (26%) are asking for this support4.

Role models will inspire students, young people and employees in the workplace and community. 33% of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse people have been telling us since 2015 that they desire this5. Employers need to ensure there is fair access to progression and development opportunities within their work places. They also should include ethnically diverse owned businesses as part of their community engagement activities.

Government and employers should use procurement opportunities to encourage potential suppliers to be inclusive employers. In addition they should ensure they are actively looking for opportunities to include ethnically diverse organisations into their supply chains.

We also need to see mentoring, be it two-way, mutual, reverse and sponsorship, on the increase again. Since 2018, there has been a fall in access to this opportunity which is highly desired by Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse people. The survey trends evidence is that mentorship and sponsorship have been consistently identified as highly valued by employees, students, and small business owners6.

Following the Race at Work 2021: Scorecard Report the Race at Work Charter has been expanded from five to seven commitments. The Race at Work Charter is a public commitment to improving the experiences of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse employees in the workplace. It sets out seven actions for employer signatories:

  1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race.
  2. Capture data and publicise progress.
  3. Ensure zero tolerance of harassment and bullying in the workplace and from customers and clients.
  4. Make equality, equity, and inclusion in the workplace the responsibility of all leaders and managers.
  5. Take action that supports Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse employee progression.
  6. Support inclusion allies in the workplace.
  7. Include ethnically diverse led business and enterprise in supply chains.


If you have yet to sign up for the Charter and would like more information join one of our Race at Work Charter surgeries in January, February, March or April 2022.

If you are interested in an opportunity to engage your employees in mentoring, our Cross Organisational Mentoring Circles has new cohorts starting in 2022. Contact our Advisory team to learn more.

  1. Business in the Community (2020) Race At Work 2021: The Scorecard Report.
  2. ibid.
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. Business in the Community (2015) Race at Work 2015.
  6. Business in the Community (2020) Race At Work 2021: The Scorecard Report.