The UK government has published its response to the report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (the “CRED report“). The CRED report contained several recommendations to address ethnic and racial disparities across the UK. The government’s response (titled “Inclusive Britain”) sets out a number of key takeaways for UK employers.
Ethnicity pay gap reporting
The UK government has confirmed that there will be no introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting.
Instead, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will support employers who choose to report voluntarily by publishing guidance on ethnicity pay gap reporting in the summer of 2022. If a company does choose to publish any ethnicity pay gap data, it will be obliged to “take meaningful action to identify and then tackle the causes of disparate pay” by publishing a diagnosis and action plan.
Regulation of AI
Of particular interest for any employers who use artificial intelligence (AI) either in the workplace or in the recruitment process, will be the government’s concern to ensure that technological advances do not have any disproportionate impact on ethnic minority groups. The Office for AI, a government body, will publish a white paper later this year governing and regulating AI covering issues such as how to address any potential racial bias in algorithmic decision-making. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will also provide guidance on how to apply the Equality Act to any AI decision making.
Changing the language
Following the logic of the CRED report that racialised terms can be unhelpful and divisive, the government has stopped using the term “BAME” and will now encourage other public bodies to follow suit. Employers may wish to consider their own terminology policies and communications as the government moves towards a granular and specific approach in speaking about ethnicity and to only use broader terms such as “people from ethnic minority backgrounds” where absolutely necessary.
The government has set out a number of actions to increase the number of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds in apprenticeships. The Department for Education, in collaboration with partner bodies and employers, will continue to promote apprenticeships through events in schools, employer testimonies and data on potential earnings and career progression.
Diversity and inclusion resources
An “Inclusion at Work Panel” will be established by the spring of 2023 with the purpose of developing and providing effective resources for employers to boost fairness across their organisations. The aim of these materials is not restricted to promoting racial diversity and inclusion but also seeks to encourage wider fairness for all in the workplace.
Employers across the UK should be aware of and consider both the issues and the government action points raised in the “Inclusive Britain” response, as these issues and initiatives will affect their workplaces and approach to recruitment. The response signposts a number of future pieces of guidance, whitepapers, and initiatives that will affect employers in the UK and employers should be alive to their publication.