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‘If you’re from an ethnic background, you are told to work twice as hard’, new equity report finds discrimination still rife in UK workforce

There remain fundamental issues of racism in the UK workforce, with Black employees worse off than those from a White, Asian or mixed ethnic background.

A new research study by Henley Business School found evidence black employees were twice as likely to experience discrimination compared to Asians and mixed ethnic minorities (19% vs 9% and 8% respectively).

Racism within the report, The Equity Effect, was cited as discrimination in work allocation, verbal abuse and inappropriate and unfair application of work policies or rules.

Speaking to HR magazine, Naeema Pasha, director of equity, diversity and inclusion at Henley Business School, said with regards to work allocation, those from a BAME background have to work twice as hard to get recognised.

She said: “My lived experience is, if you’re from an ethnic background, you are told to work twice as hard [as white counterparts].

"One of the leading forms of discrimination is a differentiation of work allocation, so we’re asking organisations to define their purpose and then look at the types of discrimination which currently happen in the workplace.”


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Businesses that treat employees fairly when it comes to race recorded an average 58% higher revenue than those which didn’t.  

Companies with targeted measures to support ethnic minorities also saw a greater staff output and loyalty.

If organisations do not create a sense of belonging within the workplace by actively tackling discrimination, they are at risk of creating a disconnect within it, Pasha warned.

She added: “Belonging is really important; we know that humans are part of a tribe and affiliation is really critical.

"If you don’t belong it can be quite hard. You can lose talent, but it’s not just about that, it’s about not enabling people to work at their potential.”

White business leaders were also less likely to have seen discrimination in their organisation, which is doubly concerning given 70% of those surveyed said their senior leadership was White.

Pasha said: “Racial equity and business success should not be separate conversations. It is critical to any organisation wanting to achieve its aims and ambitions in this challenging world of work.

“The experience of the pandemic and social movements like Black Lives Matter have shown us that we need to shift our organisational, cultural thinking to ensure we work on racial equity – not just because it is a good thing or seen as worthy, but because it is valuable and essential to organisational success.”

Research was conducted by Henley Business School via quantitative research with 1,005 employees and 505 business leaders and qualitative research with business leaders and research of publicly available sources.


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