Ethnicity pay gap reporting may come to the UK

For a while now companies in the UK with more than 250 employees have been required by law to report their gender pay gap statistics on a public government website. This initiative looks to provide transparency and hold companies accountable by revealing the mean and median hourly rates of both men and women, as well as the distribution of bonuses and other data involving pay quartiles.

This week it was announced that similarly, companies may be obligated to reveal their ethnicity pay gap as well, with the aim of helping ethnic minorities in the workplace.

What has prompted this?

Despite the Race Relations Act having been in full force for 50 years now, statistics show that ethnic minority employees are not being afforded the same opportunities as their white colleagues. Despite making up 14% of the working population, “minorities make up only 6.4% of NHS managers, 3.7% of police officers ranked chief inspector or above, 3.4% of headteachers and 2.4% of armed forces officers”.

Last year the government ran a Race Disparity Audit and this revealed that there are large discrepancies between the outcomes of white and ethnic minority populations in industries including education, employment, health and criminal justice.

Theresa May has said that “Every employee deserves the opportunity to progress and fulfil their chosen field, regardless of which background they are from”.

What should I do?

  1. To start, you should look at the demographic of your staff and ask yourself whether there is an ethnicity pay gap. Is everyone given the same opportunity for success and progression, regardless of their ethnicity?
  2. This is a good time to have a long, hard look at equality in your workplace as a whole. Do you have a gender pay gap, do you have the same rules and guidelines for each employee, and do you have the correct systems, processes and procedures in place to monitor and enforce this?
  3. Be open and talk to your employees of ethnic minorities. Listen to their opinions and experiences of employment and be part of the change that we need to see in the workplace. A recent report revealed that 52% of BAME (black, asian and minority ethnic) employees “believe they will have to leave their current organisation to progress in their career”, whereas only 38% of white British employees feel this way. Do your staff feel like this?

In a nation that is multicultural, there is clearly much work to be done to bring about equality alongside the diversity. We suggest that you do not wait to see if ethnicity pay gap reporting becomes mandatory before you give it some thought. First and foremost, it is it the right thing to do. Secondly, it will save you time and stress if you understand this information in the context of your business before it becomes a legal requirement.