UK’s biggest survey on race at work launches

  • Today (Monday 22 March), Business in the Community (BITC) launches the UK’s biggest survey on race at work, with around 25,000 responses expected.
  • Over 350 employers have signed up to BITC’s Race at Work Charter since George Floyd’s death last year.

As the largest survey of its kind, the Race at Work survey is one of the most influential datasets on discrimination and bias at work.

In 2015, 24,457 responses revealed significant and persistent gaps between employers’ policies and black, Asian and minority ethnic employees’ lived experiences. 30% of employees who had witnessed or experienced racial harassment or bullying from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers reported that it had happened in the last twelve months. Two years later, those revelations shaped the focus of the landmark McGregor-Smith-Review: Race in the Workplace.  

In 2018, over 24,000 responses demonstrated the need for greater business action. Over half of black, Asian and minority ethnic employees (52%), believed that they would have to leave their current organisation to progress in their career, in contrast with just 38% of White British employees. The results led to the creation of the Race at Work Charter in the same year: 620 companies – representing 5.5 million employees – have now signed up to its five steps:

  1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race.
  2. Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress.
  3. Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying.
  4. Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers.
  5. Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

In 2021, the survey will add new questions on the impact of COVID-19, the lack of accurate ethnicity data, progression in the workplace and the importance of allyship.

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Director at BITC, said: ‘Every response to this survey is a radical act: real change never comes from ignorance. Despite the insights from 2015 and 2018, it is shocking how little we still know about day-to-day experiences of ethnically diverse employees. The fact that Race at Work signatories have more than doubled over the last ten months is extraordinary and I am optimistic that this surge of ambition from employers will translate into different experiences on the ground.’

Richard Iferenta, Chair of the BITC’s Race Equality Team, Vice-Chair and Partner at KPMG, said: ‘The urgency and magnitude of racial inequality in the workplace demands more action, which will only happen if voices are amplified and heard, so I’m pleased that the 2021 Race at Work survey will give over 25,000 people this much-needed opportunity.’

Clare Camara, People Director for Organisational Effectiveness at the Co-​operative and member of BITC’s Race Equality Leadership Team, said: ‘We’re proud to support the Race at Work survey; together we have the power to be the driving force for change. At this time, is so important to give every voice a chance to be heard. This is important for the Co-op and our vision of “Co-operating for a fairer world.”

Khaled Shahbo, Senior Vice President UK & Ireland at Enterprise Holdings’, said: “At Enterprise, equity, inclusion and diversity have been the cornerstone of our business since our inception. We are incredibly proud to support the Race at Work survey with other organisations to ensure that workplaces are challenged to be welcoming and inclusive environments for everyone.”

Roland Ilube, Head of M&A and Commercial Finance, Downstream at Shell UK and member of BITC’s Race Equality Leadership Team, said: ‘To continue to advance in the area of race at work, we need to understand where we have made progress and where challenges still remain.’

Deborah Dorman, Director of Group HR at Sainsbury’s, said: ‘We want to be the most inclusive retailer, where every single one of our colleagues can fulfil their potential and where all of our customers feel welcome when they shop with us. Ethnic diversity and equality are a very important part of this, so we were keen to sponsor the Race at Work survey. The findings will enable us to build on the actions that we are already taking and further amplify our commitment to improving equality of opportunity in the workplace.’


Media Contact: 

Isabel Wilkinson, Business in the Community  

Email:; 07702 903 216

About Business in the Community  

Business in the community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.  We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:   

  • Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow; 
  • Build thriving communities where people want to live and work; 
  • Innovate to sustain and repair our planet. 

 About the Race at Work Survey

The Race at Work survey opens on Monday 22 March 2021 and will run for 14 weeks until Wednesday 30 June 2021. The insights will be published in October 2021 as the Race at Work 2021 Scorecard Report: McGregor-Smith Review – 4 Years On. The survey is open to anyone who is aged 16+ and currently employed, furloughed or self-employed in the UK. The survey is sponsored by KPMG, the Co-operative, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Shell UK and Sainsbury’s and is carried out in collaboration with YouGov.