From education to employment

Milton Keynes College Group releases ground-breaking ethnicity pay gap report

Milton Keynes College Group (@MKcollege) has become one of the first further education institutions in the country to release a report on the gaps in pay for people it employs from different ethnic groups.    

The report’s being released to coincide with the legally-required data around gender pay disparity.

The headline figures show that staff from all Black, Asian and Mixed backgrounds earn £0.99 for every £1.00 earned by their white colleagues, and that women earn £0.91 in relation to £1.00 for men. 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the Group, Arv Kaushal, says it’s easy to focus too much on the figures and too little on what the report represents. 

“Identifying a problem is one thing, but appreciating its scale and underlying causes is quite something else.  The ethnicity pay gap information gives us some very clear messages, most significant of which is the absence of minority representation at the highest level of management within the organisation. 

“We are missing out on the experience and knowledge and differing approaches of people from non-white populations and that’s not just an issue in terms of equality and diversity, it also limits our ability to respond to the needs of our wider community.” 

“If we don’t have people in the top positions who understand the full variety of different lived experiences of the community we serve in Milton Keynes, we won’t be as agile and responsive as we should be in terms of meeting their particular educational needs.  Put simply, a homogenous leadership group is not the best equipped to deal with the needs and problems of a multiracial community.”

The report covers the twelve months up to the end of March last year, and illustrates that when it comes to career progression the issue which needs to be addressed is not how much people are being paid but one of representation. 

“Nobody will be hugely surprised by the findings,” Arv says,

“but by collating this information and putting it out into the world we are bringing visibility to the problem.  Recognising the reality of the situation gives us an incentive as an organisation to do something about it, knowing full well that when future reports come out it will be easy to judge whether progress is being made.  We’re effectively giving ourselves a stick to beat us with, but with the intention that when we try to make improvements, we’ll be able to see whether the steps we’re talking are working.”

Sandra Kerr is Race Director at Business in the Community, the foremost business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business.  She says,

“Our data shows that more and more companies like MK College are not waiting for legislation to publish their ethnicity pay gap, they are doing it themselves because they know it is the right thing to do.  Understanding the ethnicity pay gap in organisations ensures that action can be directed to where it is needed most. This is extremely important to ensure that we speed up the process in closing the current ethnicity pay gap in the UK. MK College is joining other companies who are taking the lead to ensure workplaces are equal for everyone, regardless of ethnicity and it’s only from leadership like this that we will start to see real change.”

Work has been going on behind the scenes at the College Group, looking at everything from recruitment and interview policies to the tackling of unconscious bias.  “When we look at the big issues from education funding to climate change to the cost-of-living crisis it is vital for the Group to be able to understand the different ways these challenges affect people from different backgrounds.  The figures are just a snap shot, it’s what they represent which really matters.”

Related Articles