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Fifteen of the country’s largest organisations have voluntarily agreed to produce figures on their ethnicity pay gap.

As part of an initiative led by diversity campaigners ‘INvolve’, organisations including Deloitte, KPMG and The Bank of England have agreed to complete ethnicity pay gap reports and encourage others to follow suit.

This development comes on the back of a recent study by INvolve, which revealed there are more CEOs named ‘Steve’ in FTSE 100 companies than there are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Although it is not yet a mandatory requirement, it has previously been suggested that organisations with 250 employees should have to produce a report which highlights the average difference in pay for by black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees.

A public consultation on this matter concluded as recently as January 2019 and the government are expected to outline their response in the near future. Any obligations are likely to mirror the recent gender pay gap reporting requirements, in which qualifying organisations were required to collect data on the difference in pay between male and female employees, before publishing this on the government’s website.

This development represents part of wider ongoing efforts to increase protections for individuals at work and encourage greater diversity. This point was highlighted by Prime Minister Theresa May in October 2018 when announcing her Race at Work Charter, which compelled those who signed up to commit to a series of measures that prevent unlawful discrimination and support the career progression of BAME employees.

Whilst an ethnicity pay gap report will help shine a light on any existing pay disparities, there are a number of alternative measures organisations can take to improve diversity at work. Most will already be aware that is it is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race or ethnicity and suitable efforts should be made to prevent and monitor offensive workplace banter.

Unconscious bias can present an issue and influence decisions on hiring or promoting staff, creating a glass ceiling for BAME employees. To prevent this, organisations are advised to provide unconscious bias training to managers and HR personnel, thereby ensuring this does not impact decision making.

Organisations may also consider how ‘positive action’ will allow them to justify hiring BAME individuals over other applicants under certain circumstances. For this to be lawful, organisations will need to show that applicants are equally matched in terms of skills and experience and that the selected individual possesses a protected characteristic that is underrepresented amongst their workforce. 

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