Westminster Employment Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Ethnic minority equality in the workplace

Morning, Friday, 25th June 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is focusing on next steps for improving opportunity and equality at work for people from across Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The conference will be an opportunity to consider issues raised in the final report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which is expected to be published shortly and has examined inequality in employment in the UK, alongside issues in the areas of poverty, education, health and the criminal justice system.

We are very pleased that Dr Tony Sewell, Chair of The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, is a keynote speaker at this conference.

Areas for discussion include:

  • responding to the Commission’s key recommendations and priorities for implementation
  • the impact of COVID-19
  • embedding inclusive cultures and promoting the creation of diverse workspaces
  • ethnicity pay reporting and data gathering

The agenda:

  • Key findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and their implications
  • Responding to the Commission’s findings on employment and next steps for implementation
  • COVID-19 and ethnic minority equality in employment - impact and next steps for recovery
  • Continuing to develop diverse workplaces -  recruitment practices, changing culture and promoting inclusivity, pay gap reporting, and tackling workplace discrimination
  • Policy priorities for achieving ethnic minority equality in the workplace and supporting employers and employees to tackle workplace discrimination

The discussion in detail:

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities final report

  • key findings - assessing the conclusions of the Commission’s Employment and Enterprise sub-group as well as looking ahead to implementation:
    • next steps:
      • increasing opportunities for young people, particularly those aged between 16 and 24
      • how to tackle barriers to entry into certain professions and improve routes to progression
    • best practice:
      • what can learned by and from both private and public sector employers
      • the role of private and public sector interventions
    • impact of technology - including examining how the use of AI plays a role in race disparity

Ethnicity pay gaps

  • reporting - looking at employer best practice as:
    • the Government considers its response to its consultation
    • the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities also prepares to make recommendations in this area
  • the information reported - the gathering of data by businesses, how this is used, and the businesses affected
  • future action - including preparing for any future reporting requirements, as well as an increasing number and range of businesses reporting
  • closing ethnicity pay gaps - strategies and practicalities of fostering trust and openness in work cultures, championing diversity and inclusion, and improving recruitment and progression practices

Working to create inclusive cultures and ensure equality in the workplace

  • engagement - how communication and use of language are being implemented in work environments to embed cultures of diversity and inclusion throughout organisations
  • the role of staff in pushing for change - looking at:
    • the use of employee support networks
    • involvement of all staff in creating organisational culture
    • harnessing positive employee power to put pressure on leadership to bring about more inclusive policies and environments

COVID-19 and safeguarding health, wellbeing and employment

  • best practice - with some ethnic minority groups at greater risk from COVID-19, looking at key steps employers can take to safeguard staff following the end of the current restrictions, such as:
    • individual risk assessments
    • encouraging employees to raise concerns
  • government support - what more might be needed, including guidance for businesses
  • security of employment - with some ethnic minorities overrepresented in the sectors worst hit by the economic impact of the pandemic:
    • how participation in the Government’s job retention scheme can be monitored by ethnicity
    • what can be done to support employers to bring those from ethnic minorities back into work
    • the ways in which support can be offered to those working in particular sectors and on zero hour contracts

A scan of relevant of relevant developments:

  • The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities:
    • announced by the Government in July to examine inequality in the UK, in particular in health, education, criminal justice and employment, it is expected to publish its findings shortly
    • the Commission’s Chair, Dr Tony Sewell is a keynote speaker
  • recent calls for mandatory pay gap reporting - with some large employers already starting their own reporting, as Government prepares to respond to its 2018 consultation
  • Significant progress on improving ethnic diversity of FTSE 100 boards reveals new data from the Parker Review - with statistics showing that last November 74 FTSE 100 companies had ethnic minority representation on their boards, compared to 52 in January 2020, and this has risen by a further 7 companies by March of this year, but with progress still needed at CEO level
  • Inquiry into racial inequality in health and social care workplaces - launched by the EHRC into the racial inequality of ethnic minority workers in lower paid roles in health and social care, and developing evidence-based recommendations to tackle racial inequalities in a number of areas, including employment
  • Unequal impact? Coronavirus and BAME people - the Women and Equalities Committee’s report published last December, and the recent Government response, with the Committee looking at:
    • the interplay between an individual’s occupation and their exposure to the virus
    • the impact of zero-hours contracts on ethnic minorities during the pandemic
    • and recommending that the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities looks specifically at zero-hours contract policy
  • Researching factors affecting ethnic minority groups during COVID-19:
    • four new research projects, funded with £4.5m from UKRI via the Economic and Social Research Council
    • UK researchers will look into why people from ethnic minority backgrounds are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, focussing on employment, alongside other areas

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from the Cabinet Office, BEIS, DWP, MoJ, and other relevant Departments, as well as representatives of employers and trade unions, community and campaign groups, lawyers, equality and diversity professionals, trade and professional associations, and academics, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Dr Tony Sewell

Head, Generating Genius and Chair, The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities


Kate Osamor MP

Member, International Development Committee and Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Knife Crime and Violence Reduction

Lord Sheikh

Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community


Dr Wouter Zwysen

Visiting Fellow, University of Essex and Senior Researcher, European Trade Union Institute

Senior speaker confirmed from UNISON

Wilf Sullivan

Race Equality Officer, TUC

Syma Cullasy-Aldridge

Director of External Affairs, PUBLIC

Cynthia Davis

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, BAME Recruitment

Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé

Chair, NHS BME Network