Last reviewed 29 October 2021

Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, has published the findings of its 2021 Race at Work survey which is based on the views of over 24,600 employees in the UK.

The survey found only 40% of employees saying that their employers are comfortable discussing race in the workplace, increasing by just 3% since 2018.

BITC also found that Black, Asian, Mixed Race and ethnically diverse employees are twice as likely as White employees to have experienced or witnessed racist harassment from managers, customers, clients and colleagues.

On a more positive note, the survey found an increase of 8% in employers capturing ethnicity pay gap data, up 11% in 2018 to 19% in 2021.

After the first Race at Work survey in 2015, BITC launched the Race at Work Charter. It now has more than 780 signatories, representing 5.8 million employees across the UK.

By signing the charter, organisations have committed to improving equality of opportunity in the workplace.

BITC is now calling on the Government to protect employees from being subject to racist harassment by introducing provisions in the upcoming Employment Bill.

Race Equality Director Sandra Kerr said: “Organisations need to make talking about race and equality in the workplace something of the norm; until there is a shift and safe space to have these conversations change will be a long time coming.”

The full Race at Work 2021 survey results are available at https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/race-at-work-2021-the-scorecard-report.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

If only 40% of employees feel that their employers are comfortable discussing race in the workplace, then clearly more needs to be done to ensure a supportive and inclusive environment for all.

Having clear equality and diversity policies and providing in-depth training to all staff members is a fundamental step in achieving this.

Managers should be aware of how to identify and effectively deal with race issues, and employees should have easy access to the necessary tools to raise any concerns they have, knowing that they will be treated sensitively and promptly.

Race is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 meaning workers can raise a claim for discrimination if they believe they are being treated unfavourably because of their race.

Therefore, employers must understand the importance of proactively discouraging any form of discriminatory behaviour and taking action, where appropriate, against those who breach these standards.