As an Asian woman, how employers can address the ethnicity pay gap and improve employment opportunities and equality for people from ethnic minority backgrounds is an issue close to my heart.
At the Westminster Employment Forum policy conference on Bame (black, Asian and ethnic minority) equality in the workplace: tackling discrimination and bias, reducing the pay gap and improving recruitment and progression, which took place on 25 April 2019, this subject took centre stage.
Simon Woolley, chair of the Race Disparity Advisory Group and director of Operation Black Vote, insisted that employers should be encouraged to “explain or change” any inequalities; unless they took steps to address disparity no progress would be made.
Indeed, the government’s Race at Work Charter, which sets out five calls to action for signatories to improve recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees, is a positive move towards doing so. It also remains to be seen just what the outcome of the government’s consultation on ethnicity pay reporting will be.
In other news, international recruitment business MRL Consulting Group intends to trial a four-day working week for its staff based in the UK, France and Germany, effectively giving them 47 extra days of paid time off. From May, the firm will close every Friday for the duration of the six-month trial period, while still providing employees with the same salaries and benefits as they do currently for working a traditional five-day week.
The business recognises that employee performance does not centre around hours worked but output, so it will be interesting to see if the trial results in long-term change and whether other organisations will follow suit.
Finally, almost half of employers do not have an official policy on working from home, research from job listing website Monster.co.uk revealed earlier this week. And although two in five work from home at least once a week, worryingly more than one in 10 believe they are less likely to be considered for promotions if they do so. The organisations that support home working however, in my opinion, can attract and retain staff, support employee wellbeing, and encourage work-life balance.