Westminster Employment Forum

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Next steps for ethnic minority equality in the workplace - recruitment and progression, workplace culture, and pay gap reporting

March 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on the next steps for improving opportunity and equality at work for people from across Black, Asian, and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Areas for discussion include: 

  • ethnicity pay gap reporting and data gathering
  • embedding inclusive cultures and promoting the creation of diverse workplaces
  • representation in leadership
  • improving recruitment practices
  • impact of COVID-19

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and key policy officials who are due to attend from the Attorney General's Office; BEIS; CPS; DCMS; DHSC; DWP; the MoJ; Defra; DfE; DIT; the NAO; the Education & Skills Funding Agency; the FCDO; the Government Legal Department; HMPPS; HMRC; HM Treasury; the HSE; the Home Office; the MOD; National Probation Service; UKRI; the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, ROI; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • An update on the Parker Review - increasing ethnic minority representation at board level
  • Continuing to develop diverse workplaces - gathering and publishing ethnicity data, communicating policy, and changing culture 
  • Closing the ethnicity pay gap 
  • The Business in the Community Race Equality campaign - progress made 25 years on and the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities employees
  • Recruitment and progression - targeting talent, the role of employee networks and mentoring programmes
  • How the Equality Act 2010 can improve outcomes for ethnic minority workers: the Public Sector Equality Duty and the EHRC’s role as a regulator

The discussion in detail:

Ethnicity pay gaps

  • the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Review - examining its work and findings so far, and discussing:
    • next steps - for improving representation, retention, and progression opportunities for people from different ethnic backgrounds in public sector workforces
    • best practice - what can be learned by private sector employers
  • ethnicity pay gap reporting - looking at employer best practice, and priorities for the government response to its consultation, which is expected in due course, as well as latest thinking on:
    • 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 and an increasing number and range of businesses reporting
  • closing ethnicity pay gaps - strategies and practicalities for fostering trust and openness in work cultures, championing diversity and inclusion, and improving recruitment and progression practices

Working to ensure equality in the workplace

  • recruitment and progression:
    • examining best practice - strategies such as recruitment of senior-level diversity officers, use of specialist recruitment agencies, and introduction of mentoring programmes
    • innovation in recruitment - latest thinking on the rollout of blind CVs, and reviewing interview practices
    • tackling algorithmic bias - assessing recommendations from the CDEI’s recent report, as well as:
      • results highlighting public concerns around the outcome of decision-making
      • support for ethnicity data to be used for tackling algorithmic bias in recruitment
  • creating inclusive cultures:
    • engagement - how communication and use of language are being implemented in work environments to embed cultures of diversity and inclusion throughout organisations
    • beyond top-down - looking at the use of employee support networks, involvement of all staff in creating organisational culture, and 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, such as individual risk assessments and 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

A scan 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, and currently calling for evidence
    • the Commission is due to publish its findings shortly
  • New Parker Review report reveals ‘slow progress’ on ethnic diversity of FTSE boards - commissioned to consult on the ethnic diversity of UK boards
  • Unequal impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact - report from the Women and Equalities Select Committee on the differing impact of the pandemic on women and men:
    • assessing the impact of recent government support schemes and the Industrial Strategy
    • including recommendations for ethnicity pay gap reporting and improvements in data provision to drive better analysis of intersectionality and disadvantage
  • Recent calls for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting - including from the TUC, following the latest research highlighting how racial inequalities in the labour market have increased during the pandemic, with BAME workers facing disproportionate redundancies and expected to be at a greater risk of losing their job when the furlough scheme ends in spring
  • Employers back requirement for large firms to disclose ethnicity pay gaps - reporting on the feedback from a consultation launched in 2018, with 321 responses, of which 73% supported compulsory ethnicity pay gap reporting for organisations of more than 250 staff
  • CDEI proposes a roadmap to tackle algorithmic bias - including transparency obligations for organisations, active use of data to spot and track algorithmic bias, and clearer government guidance
  • Inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on ethnic minorities - the EHRC developing evidence-based recommendations to tackle racial inequalities in a number of areas, including employment
  • Increasing number of employers calculating ethnicity pay gap, PwC study finds - with lack of ethnicity data cited by organisations as the most common reason for not reporting
  • Bridge the gap: practical ways to close your ethnicity pay gap - from the CBI, with recommendations on culture, leadership and organisational processes
  • Race Inequality in the Workforce - the Carnegie UK Trust finding young people from some minority ethnic backgrounds at a greater risk of being in unstable employment than their white peers
  • Colour of Power - the latest survey finding that 52 out of 1,099 top roles in the country are filled by non-white individuals, an increase of 15 people since the 2017 index
  • unconscious bias training for civil servants - being phased out with a statement from the Cabinet Office that that there is no evidence it changes attitudes around discrimination and prejudice, raising questions around possible alternatives

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from the Attorney General's Office; BEIS; the Crown Prosecution Service; DCMS; Defra; the Department for Education; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Department for International Trade; the DWP; the Education & Skills Funding Agency; the FCDO; the Government Legal Department; the Health and Safety Executive; HMPPS; HMRC; HM Treasury; the Home Office; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Justice; National Probation Service; the NAO; UKRI; the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, ROI; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

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 senior officials from the GEO, 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, 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
  • networking 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

Shortly after every Westminster Employment Forum seminar, a briefing document is produced. This is distributed to all delegates on the day as well as to our policymaker contacts in government, and to stakeholders more widely.

A seminar publication provides a timely record of proceedings, and acts as a guide to the latest thinking on current policy issues for those unable to be at the event.

This publication includes


Contributions from keynotes and panellists, including accompanying slides*
*Subject to approval

Delegate Pack

Information from the day, including delegate list, biographies and agenda


Transcript of questions and comments posed to speakers from attending delegates


Supplementary articles from speakers
and delegates