Open Up More Inclusive Workplaces to Close the UK's Ethnicity Pay Gap

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Open Up More Inclusive Workplaces to Close the Ethnicity Pay Gap

Apart from the obvious inequities associated with underrepresentation, what is the cost of excluding and undervaluing the UK’s Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) individuals in the workplace? According to the Resolution Foundation Opportunities Knocked?, it’s in the billions. It is estimated that full representation of the UK’s BAME population across the labour market would be worth £24bn a year to the UK economy.

This cost is particularly striking given the Resolution Foundation’s other key finding that BAME workers in the UK have made huge gains in education and employment over recent decades. Between 2007 and 2017, degree attainment among Pakistani and Bangladeshi women rose by 28%, and by 24% among black men and women overall. In fact, the number of BAME workers with degrees now exceeds that of non-BAME workers. Yet BAME workers are still disproportionately represented in junior, lower-paid roles. BITC research suggests that 6% of senior managers are BAME, even though BAME people represent 13% of the UK working age population.

The report also found the following for 2016-7:

  • The average hourly pay gap between white men and Indian women was 14%.

  • Between white men and black men in the same period, it was 19%.

Other key findings include:

  • Penalties are largest for black male graduates (17%) and for Pakistani/Bangladeshi non-graduate men (14%)

  • There is less variation in the size of penalties that exist between graduates and non-graduates than there is between different ethnic groups themselves

  • Penalties tend to be smaller among women than among men

  • Penalties have remained stable for graduates but moved in different directions for non graduates

Mentoring circles

To support BAME graduates in landing their first job, the UK government has launched a mentoring circles program.

The Minister of State for Employment Alok Sharma said about the initiative:

“The mentoring pilots for jobseekers from ethnic minority backgrounds have made a difference by supporting them into further training, work experience placements or jobs and I pay tribute to all employers who have taken part in the mentoring circles programme.”

Lack of workplace diversity and inclusion training

While programming to help BAME graduates find their first job is crucial, sustained professional development support is key to career progression. Educating employers and managers on promoting more inclusive workplaces is also vital. The UK’s Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has highlighted a lack of diversity awareness and education among managers within UK workplaces. CMI research demonstrates one in four managers have not received training on diversity and inclusion at work.

Chika Aghadiuno, group risk strategy and analysis director at Aviva said:

“I 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.”

In fact, studies show BAME workers are likely to leave organisations where they don’t see evidence of people similar to them advancing into senior roles. Their perception of equality, diversity and inclusion depends on role models in senior leadership. If these are missing, BAME workers are likely to lose faith and seek opportunities elsewhere.

This represents a phenomenal loss to organisations that are successfully building diverse middle management teams. If the senior leadership team still looks homogenous, organisations must ask themselves what more they can do to bring underrepresented employees into senior positions.

Building a culture of inclusivity through mentoring

How can companies create a supportive environment that encourages open communication while also connecting role models with junior employees? WERKIN’s tech-enabled mentoring platform facilitates, scales and measures mentoring programs and sponsorship for underrepresented groups across large organisations.

Despite continued structural inequality, BAME workers in the UK have made significant gains in education and professional attainment. However, research shows the majority are still experiencing bias in the workplace, affecting career development. Managers and leaders need to understand and address how conscious and unconscious biases create cultures of exclusion in their workplaces.

WERKIN’s mentoring technology helps to reduce bias in decision-making processes, matching mentors with mentees outside of their immediate lines of sight. WERKIN is changing who managers see and how they assemble diverse teams.