From education to employment

More than 1,000 businesses commit to making race equality a priority by signing BITC’s Race at Work Charter

people working together

Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today announced that more than 1,000 businesses have signed the Race at Work Charter, making a public commitment to improving equality of opportunity in UK workplaces. The signatories collectively employ more than 6.5 million people across the UK.  

The Race at Work Charter was launched in 2018 following BITC research into how employers were performing against the McGregor-Smith Review, a government-backed, independent review by Baroness McGregor-Smith considering the issues affecting Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and other ethnically diverse employees in UK workplaces. The review found that Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and other ethnically diverse employees encounter significant disparities in employment, pay, and progression in the workplace compared to white employees. The McGregor-Smith Review also found that race equality could boost the UK economy by £24 billion every year.

To help address the findings of the review, drawing on the evidence and insights from the Race at Work 2015 and 2018 surveys with YouGov, BITC launched the Race at Work Charter with five calls to action for employers to help improve race equality, inclusion, and diversity in the workplace. Since the launch, there has been progress in the number of employers who have appointed a Senior Race Champion in their organisation, rising from 33% in 2018 to 44% in 2021.There has also been an increase in the number of employers who communicated their zero-tolerance policy on racism in the workplace with their employees, rising from 39% in 2019 to 65% in 2020.

There has also been an increase in the number of organisations who ensure that giving equal opportunity for progression, leadership, and recruitment to all in the workplace is embedded into their strategic objectives, rising from 70% in 2019 to 74% in 2020.Additionally, the number of employers who capture their ethnicity pay gap rose by 8% between 2018 and 2021, from 11% to 19%.

BITC has been calling for the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for employers with over 250 employees. Analysis by BITC using trends from the 2018 and 2021 Race at Work survey showed that, whilst many employers are already voluntarily publishing their ethnicity pay gap data, without government intervention, it will take until 2075 for companies currently capturing their ethnicity data to publish it. The analysis also showed that unless the government makes reporting mandatory, it will take until 2051 for all UK employers to capture the data needed to report on any disparities in pay for Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse employees.

Two additional calls to action were added to the Charter in 2021 following further research into how employee experiences had changed since 2018 to include allyship and inclusive supply chain commitments. The seven commitments of the Charter include: 

  • Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race
  • Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress 
  • Commit at board level to zero tolerance or harassment and bullying 
  • Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers 
  • Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression 
  • Support race inclusion allies in the workplace 
  • Include Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and other ethnically diverse-led enterprise owners in supply chains 

Employers which have signed the Race at Work Charter include Aviva, Barclays, Hilton, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley International, and Tesco.

Richard Iferenta, Partner and Vice Chair, KPMG and Chair of the Race Leadership Team, Business in the Community, said:  

“The Race at Work Charter put race firmly on the corporate agenda in 2018, and it’s incredible that more than 1,000 employers have committed to take real action on racial equality since then. This work, led by Sandra Kerr and the Race Leadership Team members, has been essential in shifting the dial on workplace inclusion, which we know has a real impact on the experiences of Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and other ethnically diverse employees. While reaching this milestone must be recognised and celebrated, our focus is firmly on the future, engaging even more employers and closing the inequalities gap once and for all.” 

Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE, said: 

“To help achieve true equality for people living across the UK, a collective effort by business, government and wider society is essential. From BITC’s leadership, we understand the appetite from employers to create more inclusive workplaces for those employees from Black, Asian, Mixed Race, and other ethnically diverse backgrounds. Reaching more than 1,000 signatories of the Race at Work Charter is something to celebrate but our work is far from over. We need the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting so employers can set out ambitious action plans to address any pay disparities in their workplaces.”  

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Director, Business in the Community, said: 

“Committingto making workplaces more inclusive and fairer for everyone is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes business sense. Businesses who have a diverse workforce reap the benefits such as greater innovation, creativity, and improved productivity. The employers who have signed the Race at Work Charter have taken their first step in committing to making the UK a fairer place to live and work. While signing the Charter is important, it is not a silver bullet and BITC works closely with employers to understand both the barriers and progress made against the calls to action.  

“Mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting would help to significantly increase awareness and action on this agenda, and I hope that the government listens to our calls for reporting to be a requirement for all employers with over 250 employees.”  

Related Articles

Promises, Possibilities & Political Futures…

Tristan Arnison discusses the main UK parties’ education policies for the upcoming election. While specifics vary, common themes emerge around curriculum reform, skills training, and…