Policy Paper:

CMI response to ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK

Tuesday 26 January 2021
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was announced in the summer of 2020 with the aim of reviewing inequality in the UK, focusing on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system.
multi cultural business team sat at table in discussion

In October 2020 the Commission announced a call for evidence to review ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK.

CMI's response to this outlines how there have been some positive signs of change when looking at reducing ethnic disparities and inequality in the UK. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement has accelerated and added a renewed impetus to the Diversity and Inclusion agenda, there has been the consultation on ethnicity pay reporting, and the ethnicity pay gap has narrowed.

But overall progress has been painfully slow and it is clear much more needs to be done. The ethnicity pay reporting consultation closed in January 2019, making it nearly two years since this concluded at the time of writing our response. Most ethnic minority groups still earn less than White British employees and CMI's own research shows more action needs to be taken if we are to build truly diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Our response argues that one of the key causes of ethnic disparities and inequalities at work is a lack of people from diverse ethnic groups in management and leadership positions. Under representation at management level and above is driven by poor quality data and a gap between the rhetoric and actions of those in positions of influence within organisations. Managers and leaders are instrumental in the success or failure of efforts to create balance.

We outline several recommendations to tackle these disparities. This includes:

  • Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for large organisations.
  • A requirement for organisations covered by pay gap reporting to publish action plans for closing any pay gaps.
  • Government should work with professional bodies, such as CMI, to develop an online portal providing guidance and best practice to employers on how to close gaps.
  • The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities should work to obtain more detailed and up-to-date data on ethnicity in the workplace to gain better insight into the full range of barriers that workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds face.

CMI's response also sets out a number of good practice approaches that organisations can adopt such as diversity training, staff networks and inclusive recruitment and promotion practices. But the first step should be collecting better data. We need to break the culture of secrecy around ethnicity data to raise awareness and accountability.

CMI's work on race and ethnicity is steered by the CMI Race advisory committee. Members of the committee are professional leaders and race champions with invaluable insights into diversity and inclusion. Membership of the committee can be found in our Moving the Dial on Race report.

CMI response in full

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