Committee proposes mandatory reporting on disabled and ethnic minority staff

ethnic minority

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recommended that the UK government legislate for mandatory monitoring and reporting on the recruitment, retention and progression of disabled and ethnic minority employees for employers with more than 250 staff.

Its Measuring and reporting on ethnicity and disability pay gaps report, published today (Thursday 20 August 2018) proposes that all private, voluntary and listed public sector employers with 250 or more employees should be required to monitor and report on ethnicity and disability in recruitment, retention and progression within the workplace by April 2020.

The report further recommends that these employers should also be obliged to publish a narrative and action plan, including time-bound targets, that has been informed by analysis of the employer’s specific ethnicity and disability data. This should explain the factors underlying the data and provide a focus on how substantive improvements can be made.

Caroline Waters, deputy chair at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We’ve seen how mandatory reporting has led to employers redoubling efforts to address their gender pay gaps. We need the same level of scrutiny and focused action on opportunities for disabled and ethnic minority staff in the workplace.

“By not identifying and taking action to tackle unfairness in recruitment, retention and progression, employers are putting the careers of their ethnic minority and disabled staff at a disadvantage.”

To support this key recommendation, the commission plans to work with the government to develop practical support and guidance for employers by April 2019 on how to collect, report on and use employee data on ethnicity and disability. It will also work with the Scottish and Welsh governments to provide clear and country-appropriate guidance on the classification system to be used for ethnic minority and disability monitoring by all organisations, and on how to collect, report and use this data in these regions.

Research conducted in conjunction with the report found that although 77% of employers believe that ensuring workforce diversity is a priority, only 44% record or collect data on whether employees are disabled or not, and 36% record or collect data on employee ethnicity. A further 23% collect data on staff pay and progression that can be broken down by ethnicity and disabled and non-disabled staff. A minority (3%) of employers analyse this type of data to explore differences in pay and progression between different ethnicities and disabled and non-disabled staff.

Waters added: “Collecting meaningful data will give employers the insight they need to tackle the underlying causes of inequality and ensure that disabled people and those from ethnic minorities enjoy a working environment that allows them to reach their full potential.

“Our research has shown that first we need to support employers to collect and analyse data on staff ethnicity and disability and reassure employees about how their information will be used.”

The report highlights best practice for employers in this area. This includes collecting information on, and encouraging staff to self-report, their ethnicity and disability status on a rolling basis, running internal communications campaigns before collecting data, publishing details of the proportion of staff who are disabled or from an ethnic minority, conducting pay reviews, publishing equality reports that show workforce breakdowns of employees by protected characteristics and using frameworks to identify how protected characteristics affect issues such as recruitment and annual reviews.

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Employers can monitor recruitment bias by looking at the percentage of those with protected characteristics who applied for jobs, were shortlisted, and were appointed, and can then establish working groups or develop action plans to address the ethnicity and disability pay gaps. They might take action, for example, by running leadership workshops targeted at staff from ethnic minority groups.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: “New rules to make bosses reveal gender pay gaps have helped to shine a light on the problem. A similar move to require employers to publish their disability and race pay gaps, along with the actions they will take to close them, would be a step in the right direction. As well as guidance for employers to ensure they are consistent in how they measure and report their pay gaps.”