Black Voices Report renews call for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting

A third (33%) of black employees feel ethnicity will be a barrier to their next career move despite them arguing they are more driven than white employees.

Business in the Community’s (BITC) Race at Work: The Black Voices Report found that 74% of black employees want to progress in their careers, compared to just 42% of white employees.

Just 1% of white employees surveyed by BITC said they feel ethnicity will be a barrier to their next career move, and 13% said they had experienced or witnessed racial harassment from managers, compared to 28% of black employees.

Highlighting the disparity between the different races at work, 29% of white employees said they work in all-white teams with no black, Asian or mixed/multiple ethnic group people.

In order to instigate change in the workplace BITC members have reiterated their call on the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting as they say lack of consistent data is ‘crippling change.’

Marsha de Cordova, shadow secretary of state for women and equalities, voiced her support for the campaign, arguing that the government’s refusal to introduce a pay gap “holds back our talented workforce.”

“It's not about data collection for the sake of it, but data collection that will show businesses where they need to change and what steps they must take to ensure black members of staff can really develop, progress their careers and achieve their ambition,” she said.

Ann Cairns, global chair of the gender diversity campaign group 30% Club which updated its targets to include new ones for ethnicity in UK businesses earlier this year, also stressed the importance of data in effecting this change.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Assessing diversity begins with good data collection. Transparency creates awareness, so publishing data internally is important, as is setting goals for the company you want to be tomorrow. Of course, if you are a PLC publishing externally is highly impactful. It shows the company is serious about gender pay gaps and minority pay gaps.”

The UK government initially ran a consultation on the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting from October 2018 to January 2019 and it is still analysing the results before making an official response.

The campaign for its introduction has gained traction again this year through a petition set to close in September – which has already exceeded the number of signatures needed to be considered for debate.

The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement also brought new attention to the cause and has coincided with many firms pledging further commitment to their black employees.

In July insurance firm Zurich reported that it would be just one of 16 UK businesses reporting its 2020 ethnicity pay gap.

In line with BITC’s assertion that the ‘reporting on pay gaps is not perfect,’ Steve Collinson, head of HR at Zurich UK, said that the company’s commitment to the report would be part of a broader initiative for equality within the business.

"There are many factors which feed into this pay gap, which is why we’re carrying out an in-depth piece of research to get to the bottom of all the contributing factors. In order to truly shift the dial, you have to address the symptoms not the cause,” he told HR magazine.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has also been lobbying for the introduction of mandatory reporting for both ethnicity and disability pay gaps. It is urging government to make both these reports and supplementary action planning mandatory for companies of over 250 employees by 2022.

“A diverse workforce benefits business. More diversity means a wider range of views and experiences can be shared and built upon, leading to better, more informed decision making,” a spokesperson for the EHRC told HR magazine.

“We welcome the businesses that are looking to report their figures and actively encourage more to do so. However, mandatory action plans would also help employers demonstrate how they are going to address barriers by setting out time bound target driven commitments to improve diversity.”

BITC’s Race at Work: The Black Voices Report can be found online here and includes recommendations for employers seeking to provide better support for black employees.