Recent events have prompted organisations to pledge their solidarity with the BAME community. The petition helps bring the subject to the fore and, in light of the recent Black Lives Matter campaign and Covid-19 pandemic, may help motivate positive action from businesses in the UK. It is a shared belief that action not outpourings are needed to move things forward.
So how would ethnicity pay reporting help?
Ethnicity Pay Reporting will give everyone transparency of the current situation. By benchmarking, we can set achievable goals and see positive improvement. There is the element of pride for companies too, wanting to be seen to be doing the right thing. Reporting is not currently mandatory but some companies already do so on a voluntary basis. Others are committing to do so in the near future, with or without the Government’s directive. For example, last year 15 large UK companies signed-up. These included companies such as The Bank of England, Citigroup, Stella McCartney and Bupa.
“Ethnicity pay gap data is not required by the government, although increasingly campaigners believe they should be. Prudent boards would get ahead of this curve and request their firm’s ethnicity pay gap be calculated to inform their internal decision-making. I admit that only the very bravest would publish it.”
CEO Guy Wakeley comments: “We have been wanting do this for a while and see the huge importance of getting this into effect as soon as possible. Only through measurement can we quantify our current position and plan for a positive future to which our BAME colleagues are central.”
In a poll, EQ asked its own employees whether they would be willing to disclose their ethnicity to their employer. The results were interesting. A sample made up of colleagues predominantly from the UK, US and India showed that 89% would be happy to do so to support a journey to a more diverse and representative organisation. Nick continues:
“The stats were very encouraging and showed that when colleagues understand the greater good of why this data is being requested, they feel much more inclined to disclose it. We will be starting an initiative to encourage all colleagues to populate their diversity information, and collectively help us champion diversity and inclusion at EQ.”
GDPR and meaningful data
GDPR and confidentiality has also been considered a barrier to collecting and storing data. Unless the company can effectively communicate the change for good, and the care which they will take with the data, asking for such information could be perceived as invasive. So it is understandable that companies are treading with caution.
Meaningful data is another key barrier. When BAME are significantly under-represented within a company, data can be skewed by anomalies as the sample group is not always significantly robust. The government has noted this as a potential problem. They are trying to work out how reporting will take this into account.
Committing to specific actions
We’ve posted on our corporate Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, but now we must show what our organisations look like truthfully and what more we are doing to change it.
Tangible and meaningful actions such as these give us the opportunity to start conversations, work together and treat everyone equally. In McKinsey’s report “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters” from May this year, different corporate approaches to Inclusion and Diversity were explored through research with many companies. One key insight was: “Hiring diverse talent isn’t enough - it’s the workplace experience that shapes whether people remain and thrive.”
This insight was gleaned through “social listening,” of employee reviews of their employers posted on US-based online platforms. McKinsey honed in on sentiment and the findings are telling: Overall sentiment on diversity was 52 percent positive and 31 percent negative. Yet for inclusion, sentiment stood at only 29 percent positive and 61 percent negative. This really shows the need for focus on inclusivity and culture within companies.
So there is also sound financial business sense to making our organisations as inclusive as they can be. Whether change is led from the top, via HR, or even via equality networks in the business, we can all get involved in consciously improving the world of work for everyone.
Let’s continue this
It is encouraging that initiatives like the Government poll and the Audeliss / Involve open letter are helping continue the momentum for change in the context of business. A pay gap report, in itself, may have little impact on an individual’s experience but it is a starting point. What will bring about real change are the actions behind the report.
Together, we can start open and honest conversations. Together we can help establish useful measurement systems from which we can gain valuable insight. More importantly, we can start getting real about how our colleagues work together. We can all help make positive change for the future. Together.