On 17 April 2023 the government provided an update report on its progress regarding the Inclusive Britain action plan, in tandem with its ethnicity pay gap reporting guidance. The action plan aims to address ethnic and racial disparities and inequalities in the UK. Following on from our blog post on the ethnic pay gap reporting guidance, we explore the update on the Inclusive Britain action plan and the changes that it might introduce.
What is the Inclusive Britain action plan?
The Inclusive Britain action plan was published in March 2022 and commits to 74 actions intended to level up disparities faced by ethnic minorities in British society. It focuses on change in relation to the issues identified in the report, including promoting equality of opportunity and increasing trust and fairness.
What does the update report say?
The update report highlights the progress that has been made against the action plan and the areas that still need to be addressed.
This article is intended to provide a high-level overview of the some of the key areas of progress, with the report itself offering much greater detail on the progress that has been made. For further information, please see the government’s update report.
One significant change that has been implemented in accordance with the action plan is to the language used to refer to people of ethnic minority backgrounds. The government has ditched the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) acronym in order to communicate more effectively on the specific issues facing different communities across the UK. The research agency Basis Social has been commissioned to undertake research into the language which will be used to more accurately resonate with people from different ethnic backgrounds. Though the government has yet to confirm how it will respond to this study, it found that using a broad approach to discussing ethnic minorities can lead to misrepresentation and, instead, it is better to be as specific as possible. This suggests that the government will continue with its strategy of ceasing use of the term BAME when discussing racial inequality.
In addition to the update on the ethnic pay gap reporting guidance, changes have also been made with regard to equality in employment. In particular, an “Inclusion at Work” panel is being created. This panel will provide resources to employers to assist them in creating a more diverse and equal workforce. There are also plans to develop an “Inclusion Confident Scheme” in which employers can volunteer to take part if they wish to show a genuine commitment to improving racial equality in the workplace.
The Departments for Education and Work and Pensions have been working to encourage the uptake of apprenticeships, which open up more opportunities for people from underprivileged backgrounds. Since September 2022, more than 600,000 students in schools and further education have accessed the Apprenticeship Support and Knowledge programme, which has been targeting schools in areas with high proportions of ethnic minority students. The Department for Business and Trade has also been working with HSBC in piloting an entrepreneur support programme to provide additional support and guidance to the next generation of ethnic minority entrepreneurs.
Finally, the update report covers the potential impact that Artificial Intelligence may have on entrenching inequalities and the work that the government is doing to combat this. In March 2023, the white paper “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” was published, setting out how the government intends to address the potential issues caused by AI and increase public confidence. For more information on this topic, please see our previous blog post.
Whilst the update report clearly highlights that there remains work to be done to tackle racial inequality in the UK, significant progress has been made in respect of the aims set out by the government last year. The greater level of detailed guidance for employers about action that they can take to create a more equal workforce will be welcomed by many.
If you have any queries about the Inclusive Britain action plan or addressing inequality in your workplace, our experienced PRM team would be happy to help.