The Prime Minister’s call for an audit on race in the Public Sector is timely and welcome

Sandra Kerr OBE,  Business in the Community's Race Equality Director comments on the recent government announcement.

It was great to hear this week that the new Prime Minister Theresa May has asked for an audit on race disparities in public service outcomes.

This is a very important step to deliver on the promises she made in her first address as Prime Minister. The audit is good news as I expect it will reinforce some of the evidence of how challenging the workplace is when it comes to issues of race equality for employees, customers and service users. The biggest challenge will be  ensuring there is a commitment to robust and practical actions that help to close persistent stubborn gaps in employment rates for some ethnic minority groups, rates of progression, access to opportunities for development and training and, of course, the important issue of racial harassment and bullying in UK workplaces.

Our Race at Work research spotlighted the prevalence of racial bullying in the UK, with 30% of those witnessing it saying it had been observed in the last 12 months.  Further analysis from YouGov spotlights that 27% of workers in the public sector had reported witnessing/experiencing racial harassment or bullying from managers and 30% from colleagues. In the voluntary sector 25% reported bullying from managers and 27% from colleagues, whilst in the private sector 21% reported from managers and 24% colleagues. The increase in racial harassment across the UK following the Brexit vote has simply brought to light what has been bubbling under the surface behind the doors of many UK workplaces.

I am asking that racial harassment and bullying within the public sector workforce and from clients, customers and service users be part of the audit that government departments, contractors and other organisations who deliver public services on behalf of the government conduct.