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Theresa May: Awful lot more to do for ethnic minority equality in work

The Prime Minister announced the new Race at Work charter on Thursday.

Theresa May has said there is an “awful lot more” to do to achieve racial and ethnic equality in the workplace.

Announcing a raft of Government plans, including a Race at Work charter, the Prime Minister said on Thursday the initiatives will mean “people can achieve their potential whatever their background”.

Mrs May said last year’s Race Disparity Audit was thought to “uncover some uncomfortable truths that can’t be tackled overnight or just by Government”.

The report published by the Government last year showed widely varying outcomes in areas including education, employment, health and criminal justice between Britain’s white and ethnic minority populations.

Mrs May said: “There is an awful lot more to do.”

The Prime Minister referred to data that shows half of ethnic minority employees believe they should leave their current employer in order to progress at work, compared to less than 40% of white British workers.

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Prime Minister Theresa May announces the Race at Work Charter (Henry Nicholls/PA)

She also said a total of 19% of ethnic minority employees said they had experienced or witnessed racist bullying or harassment at work.

The Prime Minister called on businesses to adopt the five following points to address equality disparities in the work place.

She said employers should: Appoint an executive sponsor for race, capture ethnicity data and publicise progress, commit to zero tolerance for bullying and harassment, make equality the responsibility of all managers, and take action to support career progression.

The Race at Work Charter commits signatories to increasing recruitment and career progression of ethnic minority employees, and is signed by firms including the Civil Service and KPMG.

Also announced on Thursday was a consultation on mandatory pay reporting.

The consultation will run until January to allow businesses to share views on what information should be published “to allow for decisive action to be taken”, it added, while at the same time avoiding “undue burdens on businesses”.

Recruitment must always be on merit, but we must support talented ethnic minority staff in the workplace Prime Minister Theresa May

The move follows the Race Disparity Audit last year. Among the data was that Asian, black and other ethnic groups were disproportionately likely to be on a low income, with just 1% of non-white police officers in senior roles.

Within NHS England, it found 18% of white job applicants shortlisted got the job, compared with 11% of ethnic minorities.

Number 10 said that despite the audit, the number of firms publishing data on ethnicity and pay voluntarily “remains low”.

The move was welcomed by Maria Miller, chairwoman of the Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee, who said: “This progress by Government is encouraging and we are heartened to see that the Government is taking race inequality seriously.

“By requiring employers to take responsibility for the diversity of their workforces, the Government can ensure that people from ethnic minorities are not left behind in their careers.

“We look forward to seeing the details of these proposals and what further action the Government takes to tackle these injustices in the future.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission also supported it, with its chairman David Isaac saying: “Extending mandatory reporting beyond gender will raise transparency about other inequalities in the workplace and give employers the insight they need to identify and remove barriers to ethnic minority staff joining and progressing to the highest level in their organisations.”

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