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Leading the Change - Ethnic Diversity

Leading the Change - Ethnic Diversity

Embedding race equality and increasing the ethnic diversity of staff is a strategic priority for many of enei’s Member organisations.   This is particularly timely as the recent “Race in the Workplace” report conducted by Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith highlighted the economic and business benefits of a diverse workforce.  The report also states that the demographics of the UK are predicted to change to reflect increased ethnic diversity from 14% of the working age population in 2016 to 21% by 2051. With this growth, employers can expect to see a significant increase in the ethnic diversity of prospective job candidates.   

Are Employers ready?

An interim TUC report “Let’s talk about Racism” published in April 2017 looked at the experiences of Black and minority ethnic workers, and found that BME workers reported feeling that they were seen through the “distorting lens of race, gender, and class prejudice and often experienced excessive surveillance and scrutiny by colleagues, supervisors and managers.  The report, compiled from a survey of over 5,000 respondents, also found that BME workers felt that discrimination within performance management systems was a factor in the lack of BME worker progression.   Interestingly, the interim report also found that BME workers are disproportionally subject to disciplinary action when compared to their white colleagues.  This last finding was reflected in 2012 research by the Royal College of Nursing into the over-representation of BME nurses in the fitness to practise process and in an earlier 2004 report led by Lord Bill Morris, entitled the “Case for Change”, an independent inquiry into professional standards and employment matters in the Metropolitan Police Service.

Organisations on the journey to diversify the ethnic makeup of their organisations must adopt strategies which truly embed equity and ensure that structural and institutional racism are eliminated from the employee life cycle. 

Good Practice

We’re always keen to share ideas and initiatives which can support our Members to successfully achieve their strategic aims.  One such initiative was driven by research commissioned by the Cabinet Office on the barriers to BAME career progression in the Civil Service.  The research found that with the right support in place, employees would feel more confident in exploring their talents and reaching their full potential.  With sponsorship from the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary, its Diversity Strategy Board and the race equality staff network, the Home Office launched its own internal talent programme called ‘Access’.  Twenty BAME employees participated in the pilot, five of whom have since been promoted.  Other participants have reported increased confidence, self-awareness and motivation to succeed in their career.  Importantly, the Access Programme was launched in response to feedback from Home Office BAME staff focus groups and qualitative data from a commissioned report. 

To ensure you are meeting your stated objectives around race equality, you must have an understanding of your workforce profile.  It is advisable to periodically examine your data to identify trends and areas where more work needs to be done.  An enei Member survey conducted in 2016 revealed that 47% of respondent organisations monitored ethnicity in sources of applications for employment. 76% monitored applicants by ethnicity, with 47% monitoring success (or lack of) in the shortlisting process and 41% monitoring success (or lack of) at the test/assessment stage. 59% of respondent organisations monitored success (or lack of) at interview by ethnicity and 21% of respondent organisations did not monitor any of the above stages by ethnicity.  Without adequate data it will be impossible to determine the most appropriate course of action to take to address any under-representation in your workforce.  For more guidance on what to monitor, please see the enei guide to Equality Monitoring.        

enei will be hosting a series of Leading the Change events during 2017 to support employers who are making strides to get race equality right.  To ensure we are providing resources to meet your needs, we are keen to hear from you to understand what your specific areas of challenge are, and where you would like more information and guidance from enei.  You can email me in confidence at maxine.hurley@enei.org.uk alternatively do keep your eye on the events page to get the heads up on coming events.

 [i] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/594336/race-in-workplace-mcgregor-smith-review.pdf

[ii]   https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/LetstalkaboutRacism.pdf