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The business implications of ‘Race in the workplace’

25/04/2017

A recent report has claimed more should be done to encourage businesses to increase diversity in the workplace.

The McGregor-Smith Review – ‘Race in the workplace’  – has recommended that organisations with more than 50 employees should publish “aspirational targets” to increase diversity and inclusion and that they should be required, by law, to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band.

Julia Fitzsimmons, a Partner in our Employment team, examines the findings: 

The review was set up by the Government to look at the issues and obstacles in developing black and minority ethnic (BME) talent right from entry into the workforce up to executive level.

It made some interesting revelations. Although one in eight people of the working age population is from a BME background, they make up only 10 per cent of the workforce. And people with a BME background hold only six per cent of top management positions.

Baroness McGregor-Smith, who led the review, said discrimination and bias “at every stage of an individual’s career, and even before it begins” and a lack of BME role models were key factors in the failure of BME workers to progress.

The findings of the review are what we would have expected and the recommendations aren’t anything surprising. But, even though new laws aren’t on the cards, employers would be advised to incorporate some of the recommendations into their own organisational practices. 

These include using contracts and supply chains to promote diversity, ensuring that contracts are awarded to bidders who show a commitment to diversity and inclusion; having a more diverse work experience programme and career pathway; and hosting mandatory unconscious bias training online for all staff with a drive to provide more detailed training for senior managers and those involved in recruitment.

These are small changes that could make a big difference in the recruitment of people with a BME background. 

However, if the Government is reluctant to bring forward legislation on this, it is understandable if businesses dedicate their time to other issues such as the requirement to report on the gender pay gap, due to come into force later this year.

For further advice, please contact Julia Fitzsimmons on 01743 266268 or j.fitzsimmons@fbcmb.co.uk. Alternatively, find out more about our Employment & HR Services


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