One in five of the working-age population in England and Wales are now from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse backgrounds
Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today published 11 factsheets outlining the ethnicity and diversity of the working-age population in regions and nations across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. The 11 regions and nations include East of England, East Midlands, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Data shows that Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse people now account for 18.3% of the population (10.9 million), marking a significant 4.3 percentage increase since the last census in 2011. When it comes to the working-age population, 62.1% of the White population in England and Wales are of working age compared to 66.5% of the ethnically diverse population.
This means that now one in five of the working-age population is ethnically diverse.  By 2051, the ethnically diverse working-age population is expected to grow to nearly a third. BITC’s Race campaign has worked to highlight the inequalities that many Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse employees experience in UK workplaces. In 2021, BITC conducted its third Race at Work survey, capturing the views of nearly 25,000 employees across the UK.
The 2021 survey found that 23% of ethnically diverse people in the UK felt their ethnic background was a barrier to making the next step in their career.  This was higher (32%) for Pakistani and 38% for Black African respondents. In the nations and regions, ethnically diverse people were more likely to think that their ethnic background is a barrier to taking the next step in their career in London (18%) compared to 7% in the South West. 
The survey also found that ethnically diverse people were more likely to report that they have been overlooked for a promotion in their current place of work, with ethnically diverse people in East of England, North East and London (26%) most likely to agree with this compared to those in the West Midlands (22%) who were least likely to agree. 
With the growing number of the working-age population coming from ethnically diverse backgrounds, the factsheets, published in association with Deloitte, Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, Eversheds Sutherland, and Sage, are designed to support employers to ensure that they are tapping into the UK’s growing diverse ethnic talent.
The calls to action in BITC’s Race at Work Charter helps employers put into place the mechanisms needed to create and sustain an ethnically diverse workforce. The seven calls to action include:
- Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race equality.
- Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress.
- Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying.
- Make equity, diversity and inclusion the responsibility of all leaders and managers.
- Take action that supports Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse employee career progression.
- Support race inclusion allies in the workplace.
- Include Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse-led enterprise owners in supply chains.
Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Director at Business in the Community, said:
“We know that a person’s ethnicity can impact pay and progression opportunities in the workplace, meaning that unless these disparities are addressed, a third of the UK’s population could be experiencing workplace inequalities because of their backgrounds.
“Understanding the different ethnicities and the changing working-age population of the UK will enable employers to become truly inclusive and ensure that their workforce is representative of the population in the regions where they work. BITC’s Race at Work Charter Survey launches today which provides employers the opportunity to share the action they are taking against the seven Race at Work Charter commitments. Gathering insights on collective action is critical to understanding and monitoring progress.
“From recruitment to pay, there is a long way to go, but with the right calls to action and commitment from employers to drive change, I’m confident that by 2051, the diverse ethnic working-age population will be part of a much more inclusive workforce than their predecessors.”
“Capturing ethnicity data is essential in helping us ensure that the diversity of our workforce reflects the local communities where we live and work. It guides our approach to creating a truly inclusive, diverse and equitable workplace where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.” Leigh Lafever-Ayer, Vice President of Human Resources for UK & Ireland, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
“Capturing ethnicity data helps us to better understand the make-up of our firm so that we can focus our activities appropriately and build an inclusive workforce that’s reflective of society. It also enables transparent and meaningful reporting of our ethnicity pay gaps and progress against targets.” Mitul Shah, Partner, Deloitte
“Understanding the ethnic make-up of our employees, communities, and the wider population is critical for making business decisions to ensure that they are fully inclusive – where opportunity is available to the many and not the few. Capturing ethnicity data of our workforce allows us to track our progress against our targets and helps inform our strategic focus areas and action planning to ensure that our employee base is representative of the increasing levels of diversity in communities across the UK.” Naeema Choudry, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland
Notes to editor
- Read the Business in the Community factsheets here.
- Full percentage is 19.3%.
- BITC: The Scorecard Report – Race at Work.
- Full breakdown of ethnically diverse people living in England and Wales who think that their ethnic background is a barrier to taking the next step in their career: 18% in London, 13% in East of England and West Midlands, 12% in East Midlands and North West, 10% in Yorkshire and the Humber, 9% in South East, 8% in Wales and North East and 7% in South West.
- Full breakdown of ethnically diverse people to report that they have been overlooked for a promotion in their current place of work: 26% in the East of England, North East and London, 25% in North West, 24% in South East and Yorkshire & The Humber, 23% in East Midlands, Wales and South West and 22% in West Midlands.
- BITC’s Race at Work Charter Survey collects information from employers who have signed the charter and those who have not to understand what action is being taken against the Race at Work Charter Commitments.
- All stats in the press release, unless otherwise stated, are taken from Business in the Community’s Regional Insights on Race factsheets.
- BITC’s Race at Work Survey 2021 with you YouGov found that just 40% of White employees thought other workers in their organisation were comfortable talking openly about religion or belief in the working environment – this was much lower amongst Indian (27%), Bangladeshi (28%) and Black African (26%) workers.
- Education stats: Student records for the academic year 2020/21 show that UK-domiciled ethnically diverse students made up more than one in four (26.2%) of all higher education students. After medical-related subjects, the four most popular subjects for UK-domiciled ethnically diverse students were Law (34.0%), Business (33.8%), Computing (30.5%) and Engineering and Technology (30.4%).
- The largest ethnic minority group in England and Wales is Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh, accounting for 9.3% (5.5 million) of all residents, up from 7.5% (4.2 million) in 2011. This group includes people from Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and any Other Asian background. The second largest ethnic minority group is the Black, Black British, Black Welsh, Black Caribbean or Black African group which make up 4.0% (2.4 million) of the overall population, an increase from 3.3% (1.9 million) in 2011. Mixed Race/Multiple ethnic minority groups now make up 2.9% (1.7 million) of the overall population up from 2.2% (1.2 million) in 2011. The ‘Other Ethnic’ group has seen the biggest increase doubling from just 1% (564,000) in Census 2011 to 2.1% (1.3 million) in Census 2021.
For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy, on 07702 903 216.