In the UK today, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people are under-represented at every management level in the workplace. One in eight of the working-age population is from a BAME background, yet only one in ten are in the workplace and only one in 16 top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person.mBritish people with a BAME background are more likely to enjoy their work but are less likely to be rated as top performers compared to their white counterparts.
This Race at Work report provides us with greater understanding of the issues around this under-representation of ethnic minorities in the workplace and at senior levels. In this report we share the experiences of 24,457 ethnic minority and white employees aged 16 and over and currently in
employment in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The participants took the
race at work survey via a YouGov panel survey (6,076 respondents) and a public open survey
(18,381 respondents). We find that:
• BAME people are more likely to enjoy their work and have far greater ambition than their white colleagues. 64% of BAME and 41% of white employees in the panel survey said it is important that they progress. This is amplified in the open survey with 84% of BAME employees and 63% of white employees saying it is important to progress.
• Racial harassment and bullying within the workplace is prevalent. 30% of those employees who have witnessed or experienced racial harassment or bullying from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers report it has occurred in the past year alone.
• Many UK employees do not feel valued or inspired. Many employees do not have access to career role models, nor are they inspired, feel supported or valued by their managers. This is felt most keenly by people from an ethnic minority background; BAME employees are less satisfied with their experiences of management and progression than white employees and just over half of the open survey respondents
feel that they are working as part of a team. The lack of role models in the workplace is
particularly stark for Black Caribbean (11%) and other black group (7%) employees, with
Chinese and mixed race employees lacking role models both inside and outside of the workplace.
• We are not comfortable talking about race at work. UK workplaces might be comfortable talking about age and gender, but are less comfortable talking about race. It is clear employers need to have more confidence to address the issue of race at work and aim to understand how it has an impact on
the individual and their opportunity to reach their full potential. It also has an impact on
organisational success and survival.
Getting on the fast-track is an unequal business. Interest in taking part in a fast track programme is significantly higher amongst BAME groups, jumping from 18% of white employees who would take part to 40% of BAME employees. However, this is not reflected by greater access to fast track management
programmes or inclusion in succession planning for all ethnic minority groups. The leadership pipeline of today needs to be populated with sufficient BAME talent to ensure that senior management of the future reflects an increasingly diverse working-age population.
• There is some good news. There is some evidence that workplaces are responding to a high demand for mentors from BAME employees. Access to a sponsor is important when any group is under-represented at senior levels and there is some evidence that BAME people are more likely to have access to a sponsor than white employees. Where these relationships exist, BAME people respond positively – they feel valued and actively supported in their career progression.
It appears that despite best efforts, ethnic minorities’ experiences of work are still less positive than their white counterparts. When we consider these findings in light of recent evidence that organisations with greater racial diversity on senior teams experience 35% greater financial returns,3 and the changing profile of the UK workforce, this report is certainly timely.
We are all having to stay in work for longer, and one in four of the future workforce will be from an
ethnic minority background. Understanding the age demographic of each ethnic group is important for employers to understand the full picture behind BAME under-representation in the workplace.
Race at Work presents employers with a great opportunity to harness the huge ambition of ethnic minority employees, and reap the rewards. Employers shouldn’t be afraid to talk about race at work – let’s turn debate into policy and action today, so that the UK fully utilises the diverse talent that exists in its workforce.
The voices of 24,457 individuals cannot be ignored.