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Call for 10,000 employees to take part in largest ever race at work survey in the UK

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Today the largest ever workplace survey of race at work in the UK has been launched. The charity Business in the Community wants to hear from 10,000 ethnic minority and white employees to understand their experiences of race at work in the UK. 

In the UK today, ethnic minorities are under-represented at every level of work, 13% of the population is from an ethnic minority background, but only 1 in 16 top management positions are held by an ethnic minority person. Ethnic minorities are also less likely to succeed in recruitment and less likely to be rated as top performers compared to white peers*. The race at work survey aims to gain better understanding of the issues around this under-representation of ethnic minorities in work, and is asking ethnic minority and white employees aged 16-64+ and currently in employment in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) to share their experiences through the survey.

Sandra Kerr OBE, race equality director, Business in the Community said: “The reality is that the UK has a diverse population. By 2051, 1 in 5 of the population will be from an ethnic minority background. Evidence gathered to date shows that underlying cultures and processes may contribute to ethnic minorities not being treated equally in work. We want to hear the reality of race at work for today’s employees. The collective voice of 10,000 people sharing their experiences will mean we can move away from debate, straight into action.”

The survey launch is based on analysis of the results of a global online test designed to help individuals understand their unconscious racial bias. The data reflects 2.5 million participants across the US, the UK and 17 European nations and found that people aged 18-24 show stronger race bias than any other age group, globally.  Analysis of why people take the racial bias test suggests that individuals in the UK want to understand racial bias more than any other diversity issue and are driven to do so by factors such as news and media rather than their employer.

“That young people have more unconscious racial bias has come as a surprise. It busts the myth that we can wait for the next generation to solve inequality. It’s interesting to see that people in the UK have a natural curiosity about race. This means there is a huge untapped opportunity for employers to start having conversations with employees about it. Workplaces and society needs to change now, and change fast, so we can plan for the future we want. We need as many people currently in work to go online to and be part of this change.” – said Kerr.

The survey seeks to understand the lived experiences of ethnic minority employees in work in the private and public sectors across recruitment, progression, engagement and more. This will inform guidance to employers committed to fair and equal workplaces that reflect the communities and customers they serve. 

Business in the Community partnered with the University of Manchester’s Centre on Dynamic of Equality (CoDE) to analyse the data from Project Implicit’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) for race bias (Race IAT). Just 9.8% of participants in the UK were encouraged to take the test by their workplace. Additional findings are presented in an infographic and include:

·         Young people aged 18-24 show more bias than any other group, globally

·         Male Europeans display the highest bias across all genders and across all three geographies (73.7%)

·         Women in the UK have the least bias than any other group globally

·         In the UK, two thirds of people in top executive positions have bias – which may impact on team leadership and decision making

Employers are supporting this project to promote the survey and use insight from the results to build on their own policies.  More quotes from sponsors are available upon request.  


*The survey is open from Monday 27 July 2015 until Sunday 13 September 2015 at, and is sponsored by BT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Nationwide and Sainsbury’s. The research partner is YouGov.

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