The government last week commissioned research to look at what employers are doing to remove barriers to workplace progression for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers.

The research, which will be carried out by the charity Business in the Community (BITC), will focus on the steps that employers are taking to prevent bullying and harassment of BAME people in the workplace and whether companies report their ethnicity pay gap. The aim is to establish whether any further action is needed to ensure that workplaces become more inclusive.

The research will also be used to assess progress made by employers following the recommendations made by the independent McGregor-Smith Review last year into black, Asian and minority ethnic participation and progression in the workplace.

This review recommended that organisations should:

  • Gather and monitor data by setting and publishing five-year aspirational targets, then by publishing the data to show how they are progressing
  • Take accountability at the very top, for instance by ensuring executive sponsorship for key targets and embedding diversity as a key performance  indicator
  • Change their processes by being transparent and fair in reward and recognition and being open about how career pathways work
  • Critically examine recruitment processes
  • Raise awareness of diversity issues
  • Establish inclusive networks and provide mentoring and sponsorship

The review also found that the economy could benefit from a £24 billion-a-year boost if BAME people had the same opportunities as their white colleagues. It therefore called on companies with more than 50 employees to publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors commented: “This commissioned research is welcome, but what is more important is that concrete steps are taken in light of the McGregor-Smith Review, which found that nearly three in ten of BAME employees say their career progression has not met their expectations because of discrimination. As the report itself made clear “the time for talking is over, now is the time to act.”

Access the BITC website here and visit the government website to read the full McGregor-Smith report.