The Race at Work Charter: Practical help to tackle racial barriers in the workplace

Sandra Kerr OBE, Race Equality Director at Business in the Community, explains why the new Race at Work Charter is an important step towards improving outcomes for BAME employees  

Today Business in the Community in partnership with the government is proud to be launching the Race at Work Charter, a new initiative designed to improve outcomes for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees in the UK.

We’re building on the work of the 2017 McGregor-Smith Review, ‘Race in the workplace’, a wake-up call for UK employers, finding that people from BAME backgrounds were still underemployed, underpromoted and under-represented at senior levels.
Race at Work charter in words
That review concluded that “the time for talking is over. The time to act is now.” However, the Race at Work survey report that we publish today finds that not enough progress has been made. 
  • There has been an increase in the number of workers from BAME background who report that they have witnessed or experienced racist harassment or bullying from customers or service users
  • Despite being ambitious, over half of BAME employees still believe they will have to leave their current organisation to progress their career
  • The proportion of managers who report that they have a performance objective to promote equality at work has fallen from 41% in 2015 to 32% in 2018
  • Most significantly, employees have not reported any increase in the number of leaders demonstrating commitment and taking action since 2015
The Race at Work Charter is designed to foster this public commitment to improving outcomes. It consists of five principles to ensure organisations address the barriers to BAME recruitment and progression. Organisations that sign up to the charter are committing to:
  • Appointing an Executive Sponsor for race
  • Capturing data and publicising progress
  • Ensuring zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
  • Making equality in the workplace the responsibility of all leaders and managers
  • Taking action that supports ethnic minority career progression
To help organisations measure their progress against these commitments, BITC will be launching a short tracker survey, which will demonstrate how they are improving outcomes for BAME employees and stakeholders.
We are delighted that the Charter has already been signed up to by 84 public, private and charitable organisations, including NHS England, Essentra, Santander and St Mungo’s. If your organisation aspires to have one of the most inclusive workplaces in the country, we’d encourage you to sign up today. BITC can provide support to help you monitor your workforce, embed best practice to take harassment and bullying and get started with reverse mentoring. Together we can break down barriers in the workplace, raise the aspirations and achievements of talented individuals, and deliver an enormous boost to the long-term economic position of the UK. 

We will continue to track progress and report on how the Charter signatories are changing the workplace for BAME employees in a positive way.