Ethnicity in the workplace and Black History Month (Ethnicity)

October is Black History Month which is celebrated annually in the UK and across the globe. It focuses on the outstanding contributions that black people have made to society worldwide. Black History Month is a time for reflection and positive change for the future as well as continued action to tackle racism and ensure Black History is represented and celebrated all year round (Black History Month 2022 - Black History Month 2022). Each year, Black History Month has a different theme to focus on throughout the month. This year’s theme for Black History Month 2022 is Time for Change: Action Not Words.

In the world of work, if businesses celebrate and acknowledge other events such as International Women's Day, Pride Month and Mental Health Week, it makes sense to also  include Black History Month in any schedule of activities. This event continues the dialogue around race and identity in the workplace. Employers who take action to support equality in the workplace covering all ethnic groups are best placed to grow their talent pool and address skill shortages in the process (Race inclusion in the workplace | CIPD Viewpoint).

Baroness McGregor-Smith’s review into race in the workplace and Sir John Parker’s review into ethnic diversity of UK boards highlight just some of the challenges such as the employment rate for ethnic minorities is 62.8% compared with 72.6% for white employees and only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 are held by directors of colour. All BME groups are more likely to be overqualified than white ethnic groups but white employees are more likely to be promoted than all other groups. (Our Work on Diversity & inclusion | REC | Recruitment and Employment Confederation).

Peter Cheese, CEO of Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) states “Ethnicity pay reporting is an important lever for businesses and their stakeholders to assess if and where inequality based on ethnicity exists in their workforce… the data and actions being taken to improve, for both ethnicity and gender pay, will help create fairer workplaces and societies” (Make ethnicity pay reporting mandatory from 2023 to boost workplace equality, says CIPD).

The time for talking is over. Now is the time to act” (The McGregor-Smith Review). Below are some ways to celebrate black history month and have a lasting impact on improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Evaluate and develop workforce policies and strategies - address racial inequalities at work, using the six guiding principles to help inform your strategy (Developing an anti-racism strategy | CIPD). Explore whether policies and practices are underpinned by principles that actively celebrate and encourage difference.

Use Inclusion Health Checker - this tool developed by CIPD provides tailored recommendations outlining the actions to improve inclusion in your organisation.

Identify levels of ethnic diversity using HR data - use this benchmark to explore any structural and cultural barriers that are maintaining workplace inequalities.

Prepare for ethnicity pay gap reporting - report this information voluntarily, using the relevant guidance from The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the CIPD.

Review recruitment practices to eliminate bias and discrimination - assess whether images and language used in recruitment materials are inclusive and carry out recruitment monitoring to analyse the number of ethnic minorities applying for each role, success rates and any occupational segregation.

Raise money/volunteer for good causes - help local charities to support the Black community in your area, and improve resources for black-owned businesses. UK charities raising money for black communities include:

Arrange a talk, interactive workshop or panel discussion - By organising a session with a facilitator or external speaker you can give employees with an opportunity to hear about thought-provoking topics. For inspiration, view these profiles of 12 best racial equality speakers.

Tackling inequalities in the workplace and supporting multiculturalism and diversity will help shapes a better world for everyone.

Lizzy Turek

Client Research Associate

Ethnicity in the workplace and Black History Month (Ethnicity)