Large UK employers should publish race and salary band data, says review


The McGregor Smith review indicated that, if people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds participated and progressed in the workplace to the same extent as their white peers, it would add a huge £24 billion to the UK economy.

Large UK employers should be required to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and salary band as well as implement five-year aspirational diversity targets, a government-backed review has said.

The review, which was conducted by former chief executive of Mitie, Ruby McGregor Smith, the first Asian female boss of a FTSE 250 company, called on the government to legislate for firms that are either listed or employ more than 50 workers to publish a breakdown of race statistics in their annual report and on their website.

But the government ruled out mandating such a move. While business minister Margot James said that “out-dated attitudes” must be challenged, she believed “the best method is a business-led voluntary approach, and not legislation, as a way of bringing about lasting change”.

But McGregor Smith in her report entitled “Race in the Workplace” disagreed. She said: “We have seen with the gender pay gap reporting requirements that, where employers are required to collect and publish key data, they will take action. For that reason, I believe it is essential that as well as collecting this data, all large employers must publish their workforce ethnicity data annually.”

The report pointed out that if people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds participated and progressed in the workplace to the same extent as their white peers, it would add a huge £24 billion to the UK economy. It also found that employment rates among BME workers (62.8%) were 12% lower than their white peers (75.6%) and they were more likely to work in lower-paid, lower-skilled roles.

Moreover, BME people hold a mere 6% of top management positions. These issues were attributed to conscious and unconscious bias from the recruitment process onwards, reinforced by “outdated processes and behavioural norms”.

Other recommendations in the report include requiring employers to:

- Set five-year diversity targets and appoint a board member to deliver them
– Provide employees at all levels with unconscious bias training, provided free online by the government
– Ensure all senior leaders have clear diversity objectives, reject non-inclusive candidate long- and short-lists and aim to create diverse interview panels.