Ethnicity pay reporting is not enough to address BAME inequality at work

11 February 2019 -

Ethnicity pay reportCMI Companion Chika Aghadiuno calls for knowledge, advocacy and role models to boost diversity

CMI Insights

For many years now, it has been illegal to discriminate against anyone because of their race or ethnic group. However, evidence suggests Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers still face barriers in their professional careers that non-BAME workers do not. This must change.

BAME people are significantly under-represented in business, especially in management and leadership roles. Around 13% of the working age population are BAME – yet they hold just six per cent of top management positions. The UK’s BAME population is set to grow by around 21% by 2051 and businesses are missing out on the talent they need.

Businesses benefit from a diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and viewpoints at every level, and there are clear economic benefits from having a more diverse workforce. It’s estimated that full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market would be worth £24bn a year to the UK economy.

To identify which employers need to do more to support BAME men and women in the workplace, the CMI has been calling for ethnicity pay gap reporting since 2017. This transparency measure would highlight the under-representation of BAME candidates in senior-level posts – and the organisations that need to take action to address it.

Ethnicity pay gap reporting

One month ago (11 January 2019) the Government concluded its consultation with employers about how ethnicity pay gap reporting should be introduced. You can read the CMI’s submission here. However, this is just the first step needed to address the inequality.

Rob Wall, head of policy at CMI, recently met with Chika Aghadiuno CCMI, group risk strategy and analysis director at Aviva, to talk about what more can be done to support ethnic diversity at work.

Listen: Rob Wall of CMI and Chika Aghadiuno of Aviva discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Aghadiuno supports the introduction of ethnicity pay reporting; she acknowledges that publication of the UK gender pay gap raised awareness of the under-representation of women in senior roles. “We should align as far as possible with the approach of gender pay gap reporting, accepting that they are different and complexities apply [to BAME reporting],” she told CMI.

Employers need to know the facts about diversity to drive change: “There has been a lack of data to evidence the issues. If you’re uncomfortable talking about it and if there’s no obvious data to tell you that there’s a problem – you could actually believe there isn’t one,” she added.

CMI research shows one in four managers have not received training on diversity and inclusion at work. With greater knowledge of the issues, Aghadiuno would like to see managers gain the confidence to look beyond their own actions and challenge others within their organisation to nurture inclusivity. “They have to properly understand what the issues are to be an active advocate and champion. It’s about being credible, it’s about integrity and it’s about believing in what it is you’re talking about.”

The importance of role models

This advocacy should extend beyond the walls of an organisation. Aghadiuno says BAME managers can be important role models for the next generation of talent. After all, workplace culture is often a reflection of social and political trends. When it comes to careers, “if you can’t see what you might want to be, that makes it difficult,” says Aghadiuno. “It makes it difficult for those aspiring to those senior positions, but also for those people who are hiring into those senior positions as well.”

You can listen to the CMI podcast interview between Rob Wall and Chika Aghadiuno here.

Image: Shutterstock

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