International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination

Sandra Kerr OBE,  Race Equality Director, Business in the Community draws our attention to how unconscious bias affects the workplace and how the issue can be addressed. Sandra also calls for participation in the Race at Work survey that is open until May 2nd. 


Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Business in the Community is excited to share two interesting but challenging infographics on Unconscious Bias.  We have collaborated with Dr Ken Clark, Manchester University and Dr Ingrid Storm, Birmingham University to analyse the Harvard Project Implicit Association Test data of more than 3 million users in the UK, Europe and US.

Is Britain Biased? Revisited – Big challenges with 18-24% age groups across the UK, 17 European Nations and the US having the highest racial bias over other age groups. With these trends persisting it is important that employers ensure diversity and inclusion training is incorporated into the induction of all new employees into their workplaces.

And whilst top executives in the UK continue to show lower levels of racial bias than top executives in the rest of Europe and the US, there is a small increase in negative trend in racial bias in top executives in the UK from 66% to 66.6%.

And a negative trend is not what we want to see in the UK.

Employers need to ensure that they are building authentic and inclusive leaders into their leadership pipelines to top executive levels. The second infographic is about Why are people taking the Unconscious Bias tests? The key finding for the analysis of 2017 data for UK participants is that the race test is three times more likely to be taken than the tests for unconscious bias by age, gender and sexuality.

However, disappointingly only 11.5% of race test users said that their employers had asked them to take the unconscious bias test. 

This is in stark contrast to 56%  of participants saying that their employers encouraged them to take the gender bias test. 51% saying that their employers encouraged them to take the age test.  This reduces to 25% of people saying that their employers encouraged them to take the sexuality test.

We know from our landmark survey in 2015 of 24,457 respondents that employers are not comfortable talking about race.  How can you be taking effective action on something that you are not comfortable addressing? Our Let’s Talk about Race pocket guide is available for employers who want to break the ice and open conversations and spark discussions so that they can take action race equality and inclusion in their workplaces.

The Business in the Community Best Employers for Race listing is open for entry until 2 May and we are calling on all employers who are taking action on race to enter.

The Government has commissioned Business in the Community to run the Race at Work survey again in collaboration with YouGov to assess employer progress against the McGregor-Smith Review Race in the workplace recommendations.  The survey is open to all employees in the UK.  We are keen to gain current insight into what is happening in UK workplaces and hear the voices of all workers and employees.  Join in the conversation by taking the survey today.