Businesses still ‘in denial’ about racial barriers at work


The UK economy could enjoy a £24 billion annual boost if staff from ethnic minority backgrounds were given the same chances of career progression as their white colleagues, according to an independent government-backed review.

The newly published Baroness McGregor-Smith review found that these racial boundaries resulted in a loss to the economy of 1.3% of GDP. Proposals to encourage businesses to publish details of their diversity targets have been treated with caution by experts however. Denial among many companies about race barriers has been identified as a major issue.

The review found that employment rates among ethnic minority individuals were 12 per cent lower than those with white backgrounds, and the data indicated they were also more likely to work in lower-paid and lower-skilled roles.

Among the proposals put forward by the review, large employers are being urged to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band, in addition to implementing five-year aspirational diversity targets. A new Business Diversity and Inclusion Group has been announced to ensure that the government and employers work together to improve ethnic representation, inclusiveness and opportunity in the workplace.

Rajiv Nathwani, director of private finance consultancy Quivira Capital, warned against positive discrimination measures to ensure a certain proportion of staff come from minority backgrounds. He said: “Businesses should be made up of the people who are worthiest of the roles available, regardless of ethnicity. There are more than enough qualified and able candidates from the BME (black, minority and ethnic communities), but the access to these roles is tougher. The way forward for me isn’t to ensure that a percentage are BME, but to ensure that everyone has an equal shot at applying and being considered for roles.”

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Link to full article on this issue by People Management:

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