Race for Opportunity (RfO) Influence and Impact

Business in the Community’s Race for Opportunity campaign work continues: RfO have developed an exciting Census Infographic which clearly spotlights the rapid growth of ethnic minority groups across the different regions of England and Wales since records began in 1991, 2001 and 2011. 

The results of Census 2011 gives a true reflection of the composition of the UK population and highlights the growth of its ethnic minority communities. The need to support employers in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces is great. We also need greater insight into the challenges and opportunities that will emerge owing to increasing globalisation and we need to develop incisive and sustainable solutions to tackle systemic issues that restrict the social mobility and hinder the realising of potential and talent still latent within many individuals and communities.










1 in 4 young people of primary school age are from an ethnic minority background or heritage, 1 in 8 are in the workforce or of working age, 1 in 16 are at board levels a figure that is grossly flattered by a number of international appointments, The vision of RfO is to square that pyramid to ensure there are increasing numbers of role models to inspire the next generation.

The RfO network of employers and employees represent 5% of the total UK working-age population. RfO network employers report their progress on the race agenda annually via the BITC Gender and Race Trends Benchmarking Survey.

Through the Trends benchmark RfO network employers have been able to monitor and report clear outcomes on race equality:-

Attraction and Recruitment

In 2012 we found the following actions are more closely correlated with greater intake of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates:


  • Running ‘pre-application’ events or similar for diverse groups to further prospective candidates’ understanding of the application and recruitment process (75% of the top two quartiles do this, only 56% and 50% of the bottom two quartiles do this).
  • Employers with a policy for interview panels to have ethnic minority representation when possible (50% of the top quartile do this, only 22% of the bottom quartile do this).
  • Employers that are able to track the progress of all job applicants throughout the recruitment process by ethnicity and use this data to help them identify any potential barriers to recruitment and changes that need to be made (100% of top quartile do this, only 56% of bottom quartile do).
  • Employers that have clear and current objectives for recruitment of BAME talent (this is less likely in the bottom quartile than in every other quartile).
  • Employers that have a set of key performance indicators that they use to check and demonstrate their success in attracting and recruiting BAME candidates of both sexes (63% of the top quartile, only 33% of the bottom quartile do this).
  • Employers that mandate unconscious bias training to those with interviewing and recruitment  responsibilities (50% of organisations with higher recruitment rates do this, only 5% of organisations with lower recruitment rates do this).


Development, Retention and Progression

In 2012 we found that specific actions correlated with increased rates of progression. We found that the following three actions were more commonly found in organisations with higher BAME progression rates and far less likely to be found in organisations with low rates of progression:

  • Leadership and development programmes are actively promoted to eligible BAME employees (organisations in the top quartile for high BAME promotion rates were twice as likely to promote programmes as organisations in the bottom quartile).
  • Talent pipelines are actively monitored and the progression rate of BAME employees is known (67% of the top quartile do this, only 44% of the bottom quartile do this).
  • Use selection criteria that is transparent and can be viewed by all employees (89% of organisations in the top quartile do this, which is significantly higher than the average of 57%).


The RfO campaign carries out research to provide the evidence required to address race inequalities in the UK workplace:-

  • Race for Opportunity’s first ever research report was 'Race to the Top' published in January 2009.  This report highlighted that there was 1 in 10 ethnic minorities in the workforce and only 1 in 15 in management positions.  This had occurred owing to the rapid growth of ethnic minority communities in the workplace but no correlating step change in them having a fair share of the management positions.
    Learn more at Race to the Top
  • This report attracted government support to produce further research to highlight some of the challenges that still persist around achieving race equality in the UK.
  • RfO Race into Higher Education  and Aspiration and Frustration,  in 2010 amongst other things, resulted in both Oxford and Cambridge universities engaging with RfO to better understand how they might increase their ethnic diversity.
    Learn more at  Race into Higher Educaton
    Learn more at  Aspiration and Frustration
  • RfO published Race to Progress; Breaking down barriers in 2011 and this national survey completed by more than 1500 workers across the UK highlighted that there was no ceiling on ambition for many ethnic minority workers however more than two thirds of them felt that they would have to leave their organisation to progress.
    Read the Research
  • RfO published ‘Race and Recruitment: Exposing the barriers’ in 2012 and this survey highlighted that ethnic minority job seekers were less likely to be offered a job opportunity by a recruitment agency than a white job seeker.  These research pieces continue to raise awareness within the public domain and have been covered widely in the media.
    Read the Research
  • In 2013 RfO completed a ‘Business Case for Inclusion’ suite of regional fact sheets for all of the different regions across England and Wales
    View the Fact Sheets

The RfO campaign has access to government ministers:-

  • Sandra Kerr, OBE National Campaign Director for RfO chairs the Ethnic Minority Employment Working group for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which monitors the impact on employment outcomes for ethnic minority people in the labour market.  They are currently engaged in providing input into consultations like the recent DWP Commissioning Strategy and Universal Credit related policy development, pilots and reviews.  RfO has been a key influencer in promoting best practice which has been rolled out in the form of the '5 Points for Progress Know Yourself' toolkit and bias tool.
    View the Toolkit
  • The '5 Points for Progress' toolkit was included in the government's Employment white paper, December 2009.
  • The UK ethnic minority employment gap has been closing steadily, was 19 percentage points when records began in 1991 and now 12 percentage points.  The disproportionate redundancies of ethnic minority workers witnessed during the last recession did not occur. However, the full impact of government cuts will not transpire until future years.
  • The Ethnic Minority Employment Stakeholder Group (EMESG) is currently focussed on two work streams Recruitment which includes Apprenticeships and Progression, low pay and in-work Poverty.
    Visit the DWP Website
  • The RfO campaign was recently included in the recommendations from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation research published in 2013 In-work Poverty, Ethnicity and Workplace Cultures A key recommendation is for employers to participate in the benchmark and engage with employers in the RfO the network to share and learn best practice.
    View the Research