The independent Baroness McGregor-Smith Review into race in the workplace was published on 28 February 2017.  It sets out evidence that people from BME backgrounds are still being held back in the workplace and has urged businesses with more than 50 employees to:

  • publish a breakdown of their workforce by race and pay band, on their website and in the annual report
  • draw up five-year aspirational diversity targets and measure progress annually
  • nominate a board member to deliver on these targets. 

Larger employers (with at least 250 employees) preparing to comply with the new duty to publish gender pay gap data in force from April 2017 may wish to consider adding ethnicity to the pay data they are currently planning to capture.

The Review sets out a number of other recommendations for all employers, including the provision of mandatory unconscious bias training for all staff and more detailed unconscious bias workshops and reverse mentoring for executives.  A number of steps to improve recruitment processes are discussed and the Review also recommends stopping the practice of unpaid or unadvertised internships. 

The Review recommends that Government should:

  • legislate to make publishing data mandatory
  • create a free, online unconscious bias training resource
  • develop a guide to talking about race at work.

In the Government's response, it has stated that its preferred approach is to set out to all companies, and institutional investors, the value of employing a diverse workforce at all levels and to rely on investor pressure rather than legislation.  However, it will monitor progress over the next 12 months and "stand ready to act if sufficient progress is not delivered".  It has also agreed to work with Business in the Community and others on developing a guide on discussing race in the workplace as well as having a single portal where useful case studies and unconscious bias training packages can be sourced.  Business in the Community has agreed to publish an annual list of Best 100 Employers to celebrate success and highlight best practice.

The Government also announced that a Business Diversity and Inclusion Group will be set up and chaired by Business Minister Margot James. It will bring together business leaders and organisations to coordinate action to remove barriers in the workplace and monitor employers’ progress and will include Baroness McGregor-Smith, Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander (who are leading a review aimed at increasing female leadership in FTSE companies) and Sir John Parker (who is currently leading a consultation on recommendations to increase BME representation in the boardroom).