Race at Work Report

Executive Summary / Introduction

The voices of 24,457 individuals cannot be ignored.

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).

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 person1. British 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.2

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.
  • Getting on the fast-track is an unequal business. Interest in taking part in a fast track programme is significantly higher among 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 underrepresented 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.

1Race at the Top, Business in the Community, June 2014
2Gender and Race Benchmark 2014: Performance and Appraisal, Business in the Community, 2014

The Full Story

The race at work report presents employers with a great opportunity to harness the huge ambition of ethnic minority employees, and to reap the rewards.

The Research - Step by Step

The participant demographics of the research.

Take Action

Download the following documents for recommendations on how your organisation can start taking action today. These recommendations are included in the executive summary and the report.
Recommendations for Employers
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Recommendations for Government
Recommendations for immediate, short and long term action for Government to ensure that the UK workplace culture is truly inclusive.
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Key findings
The research in bite size pieces compiled by YouGov, our research partner.
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Race at Work 2015 Survey Sector Responses
All of the data in these sector response documents relates to the YouGov statistically valid sample of 6,076 respondents who completed Business in the Community's Race at Work survey between 28 July - 14 September 2015. The documents explore the responses from survey participants by sector in answer to the following question sets: Satisfaction at work: Workplace cultures: Equal opportunity in the workplace: Aspiration, inspiration and support.
The percentages given are for 'Net Agree' or 'Net Disagree'. Where there is a significant three percentage point difference between responses these have been highlighted with a circle. Please refer to and use Business in the Community Race at Work 2015 for full context.
Responses from the Financial Sector
419 of respondents stated they worked in the financial services sector.
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Responses from the Manufacturing and Construction Sector
620 Race at Work respondents stated they worked in the manufacturing and construction industry sector.
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Responses from the Legal Sector
163 Race at Work respondents stated they worked in the legal sector.
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Responses from the Media / Marketing / PR and Sales Sector
205 Race at Work respondents stated they were employed in the media/marketing/ advertising or PR and sales industry.
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Race at Work 2015 Survey Insights. BAME women and their experiences of career progression
This insight paper compares the responses of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women to white women, to five key questions posed in the Race at Work survey relating to their experiences of career progression in the UK workplace. All the data used comes from the YouGov statistically valid and weighted sample of 6,076 respondents who completed Business in the Community's Race at Work survey between 28 July - 14 September 2015.
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