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New workplace measures launched to tackle barriers facing ethnic minorities

A series of measures to tackle ethnic disparities in the workplace will be announced by Prime Minister Theresa May today (11 October), exactly one year after the government published the findings of a world-first Race Disparity Audit on how people of different ethnic backgrounds are treated across society.

Developed jointly by the government and Business in the Community (BITC), the new Race at Work Charter will commit businesses to a bold set of principles and actions designed to drive forward a step-change in the recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees.

The government, which has named WPP UK Country Manager and Chairwoman of MediaCom UK & Ireland Karen Blackett OBE as its Race at Work Champion, has already secured a number of high-profile inaugural signatories to the Charter, including NHS England, Standard Life Aberdeen, Norton Rose Fulbright, Saatchi & Saatchi, KPMG, RBS, the Civil Service and the world leader in communications services, WPP.

In addition, financial services company Lloyds Banking Group, also among the Charter’s signatories, is the first FTSE 100 company to set a goal to increase the representation of ethnic minority employees at senior levels.

Alongside the Race at Work Charter, the Prime Minister will also today launch a consultation on ethnicity pay reporting in response to the Race Disparity Audit’s Ethnicity facts and figures website data, which reveals significant disparities in the pay and progression of ethnic minority employees compared to their white counterparts.

In the first consultation of its kind, the government will invite employers to share their views on a mandatory approach to ethnicity pay reporting, since the number of organisations publishing information on the pay gap for people from different ethnic backgrounds voluntarily remains low.

The consultation, open until January 2019, will set out in detail what information employers should publish to allow for decisive action to be taken while also asking employers how ethnicity data can be collected without placing undue burdens on businesses.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Every employee deserves the opportunity to progress and fulfil their potential in their chosen field, regardless of which background they are from, but too often ethnic minority employees feel they’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression.

“That’s why I’m delighted to launch the Race at Work Charter, which gives businesses a clear set of actions to work towards in helping to create greater opportunities for ethnic minority employees at work.

“Our focus is now on making sure the UK’s organisations, boardrooms and senior management teams are truly reflective of the workplaces they manage, and the measures we are taking today will help employers identify the actions needed to create a fairer and more diverse workforce.”

Sandra Kerr, Business in the Community Race Equality Director said: “All organisations should recruit from the widest pool of talent and support progression. The race at work survey of over 24,000 employees showed that all too often ethnic minority staff are still encountering significant disparities at work. The race at work charter will support leaders and line managers to take practical steps to tackle the barriers, with five clear actions. By signing up, we can ensure the workplace is representative of British society today.”

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