Blog by Sandra Kerr OBE, Director of Race for Opportunity
The national Census data sends a strong message that the UK is changing. In the past ten years the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population of England and Wales has almost doubled. The Census 2001 recorded the UK’s non-white population as 4.6 million, or 7.9% of the total population and the Census 2011 data informs us that BAME people account for 14.1% of the total population of England and Wales.
In England and Wales, the employment gap between BAME people and the overall population stands at 11 percentage points. At current rates, for the BAME population to have the same employment rate as overall (70.6%), there would need to be around half a million more ethnic minority people in work.
The 2013 Race for Opportunity Regional Factsheets use the Census 2011 data to create a detailed picture of BAME representation in the ten regions across England and Wales, breaking down data for population, religion, education (primary school through to higher education), and employment and leadership.
Developing these factsheets is an important exercise to undertake for four reasons:
- Employment: We want employers and recruitment agencies to understand the diversity of the talent pool in England and Wales, and how that is going to change in the future, and integrate this knowledge into their attraction, recruitment and progression planning.
- Communities: We want policy makers and local authority leaders to understand the diversity of their communities and what this means for developing and targeting their resources at a local level and with a long-term focus.
- Customers: We want to help employers, both local and national, to understand their changing local customer base, and the implications of this change for marketing and market opportunity.
- Enterprise: These Factsheets will help employers and local authorities to identify the regional areas where they can most stimulate economic growth and entrepreneurship at a local level. Central and local government should use the influence of their buying power to engage with diverse small businesses, and encourage organisations with larger contracts to do the same.
These are the four areas of action upon which Race for Opportunity was founded 18 years ago - employment, communities, customers and enterprise. Each remains as pertinent today as it did then when it comes to creating workforces that are equal, diverse and inclusive for BAME people now and the future. Achieving this is a shared responsibility, the onus isn’t solely on the government, on local authorities, on employers, on recruitment agencies or on our educators; it needs everyone to take responsibility now. This is about developing the next generation of leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business owners, employers, and employees. We only need to look at the number of BAME children in primary school and the under-representation of BAME people in work and positions of leadership to see that something is not adding up. The Census 2011 reinforces our own research (see Race and Recruitment and Race to Progress) that educational attainment for BAME students – including high levels of qualification – do not equate with better employment opportunities or career progression. The Race for Opportunity ‘pyramid’ visually highlights this inequality of progression.
At Race for Opportunity we know that role models are very important for young BAME people when it comes to choosing a career path. And here is where we have a real challenge as there is a lack of BAME role models in business, in positions of leadership, within all sectors be it engineering or law, or in education, including primary, secondary and higher education faculty positions.
This all contributes to a continued employment gap. There is so much valuable and interesting data in these Factsheets, each providing a detailed snapshot of population, religion, primary school, secondary and higher education, employment and leadership, as well as Calls to Action for employers, recruiters and policy makers to take on.
If you are a policy maker, local authority or an employer I urge you to look through the Regional Factsheet for your area and use it to inform your long-term planning and collaboration to ensure you are taking action today against inequality in the workplace in the future.
There is a Regional Factsheet for each of the following ten regions:
- East of England
- East Midlands
- North East
- North West
- South East
- South West
- West Midlands
- Yorkshire and the Humber
In the coming weeks and months I will be posting blogs that analyse the data in more detail – across education, employment and leadership.