How to Deal with Entrenched Racial Inequality

02 September 2016 -


Black and ethnic minority people in the UK are still faced with lower pay and fewer opportunities, but what can managers do to prevent racism from occurring in their workplace?

Jermaine Haughton

Black and ethnic minority people in Britain still face "entrenched" racial inequality in employment, as well as many other areas, including education and health, a new watchdog study has revealed.

Discovering an “alarming picture” in the discrimination and inequalities for black and ethnic minority people in the UK, the latest review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) yielded some pertinent questions about the role businesses can play in readdressing the balance.

The EHRC has outlined a “comprehensive and coordinated way” for UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments to address race inequality and discrimination experienced by people in Britain.

This includes developing stretching new targets to improve opportunities and deliver clear and measurable outcomes, bringing responsibility for the strategy under one Secretary of State, with clear accountability and governance arrangements and to ensure effective and transparent monitoring arrangements are in place to measure progress.

Unemployment rates across Britain were found to be significantly higher for people from all other ethnic minorities (12.9%) compared with white people (6.3%) in 2013. Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are also less than half as likely to be employed compared with average employment rates for other women.

Furthermore, young ethnic minorities experienced the worst long-term employment outcomes. Between 2010 and 2015 they saw a 49% rise in unemployment compared with a fall of 1% in overall long-term youth unemployment and a 2% fall among young white people.

Black workers with degrees typically earn 23.1% less than white workers with degrees, and those who leave school with GCSEs typically get paid 11.4% less than their white peers.

For those in employment, ethnic minorities hold a much smaller proportion of senior positions compared to their white English counterparts. In Britain, significantly lower percentages of ethnic minorities (8.8%) worked as managers, directors and senior officials, compared with white people (10.7%).

This was particularly true for black African and Caribbean people (5.7%) and those of mixed ethnicity (7.2%).

David Isaac said: "If you are black or an ethnic minority in modern Britain, it can often still feel like you're living in a different world, never mind being part of a one nation society."

He added: “We need to build a fair society in which our origins do not determine our destinies. So far, the Government’s economic plan since 2010 has not been paralleled by a race inclusion plan that prevents cutting some communities even further adrift from equality of opportunity. We agree with the Government that we must urgently lift our ambitions and are determined to work with the new Prime Minister to redouble efforts to build a fair society.”

Three tips for managers dealing with racism in the workplace


Managers are advised to “talk the talk and walk the walk” when it comes to issues related to racial discrimination.

Through a visible code of conduct manual, as well as strict guidelines for employees on what behaviour and what the punishments will be, managers can send out a strong message to employees that you won't tolerate racism.

Ensure employees sign your company's anti-racism policies so they know the risks of racist behaviour in your company.


Once an incident has been brought to your attention, managers are advised to investigate the situation immediately. This includes speaking confidentially to the involved parties on both sides of the accusations, witnesses and dealing with the issue, sensitively, in line with your disciplinary or grievance procedure.

Depending on the nature of the incident, the resolution could be anything from an apology to the victim to firing the assailant.


Working in an environment that celebrates its diversity can help build a pro-active organisational culture that reduces incidences of racial abuse and discrimination.

Working alongside an employer’s anti-racism policies, managers can offer ongoing workplace bias training, hold “show and tell” events for staff, orchestrate team-bonding trips and collaborative working, and even take part in celebrating religious events.

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