Westminster Employment Forum

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Ethnic minority equality in the workplace - the Race and Ethnic Disparities Commission report, impact of COVID, and latest thinking on developing employment diversity and inclusion


Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***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 other minority ethnic backgrounds.

The discussion follows the final report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published in March, which examined inequality in employment in the UK, alongside issues in the areas of poverty, education, health and the criminal justice system.

The conference will be an opportunity to consider issues raised in the report, and to assess its impact and next steps, with the findings and conclusions prompting extensive debate and comment.

We are very pleased that Dr Tony Sewell, Chair of The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, is a keynote speaker at this conference. There will also be contributions from: the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS); BAME Recruitment; Eversheds Sutherland; Lancaster University; Making the Leap; McAllister Olivarius; the NHS BME Network; PUBLIC; the TUC; UNISON; and the University of Essex and European Trade Union Institute. The chairs are: Kim Johnson MP, Member, Women and Equalities Committee and Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race Equalities in Education; and Lord Sheikh, Member, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • 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 priorities for policy and employer action
  • Responding to the Commission’s findings on employment and implications going forward
  • COVID-19 and ethnic minority equality in employment - impact and next steps for recovery
  • Latest thinking on developing diverse workplaces - recruitment practices, changing culture and promoting inclusivity, pay gap reporting, and tackling workplace discrimination
  • Policy priorities forachievingethnic 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, including the issues raised and the reaction to its findings, looking at its four areas of focus:
    • the ethnicity pay gap
    • fairness at work
    • empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs
    • how AI can be used as a tool to promote fairness
  • next steps:
    • what the extensive debate and comment on the report’s findings mean for policy going forward, as well as for stakeholders working on or affected by the issues
    • priorities for increasing opportunities for young people, particularly those aged between 16 and 24
    • how to tackle barriers to entry into certain professions, and improve opportunities for progression
  • best practice:
    • what can be 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 - with the Commission recommending that all employers who choose to publish their ethnicity pay figures should also publish a diagnosis and plan for overcoming any disparities
    • looking at employer best practice as the Government considers its response to its consultation
  • the information reported - considering the gathering of data by businesses, how this is used, and the businesses affected
  • future action - considering necessary preparation for any future reporting requirements, including:
    • the Commission’s recommendation that companies reporting also publish a plan
    • the future outlook, with an increasing number and range of businesses reporting
  • NHS England - implementing the Commission’s recommendation that NHS England should implement a strategic review of the causes of disparate pay, and spell out the measures that should be taken to tackle any discrepancies found
  • 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 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
  • commission recommendations - the potential implementation of key recommendations from the Commission in this area, including that companies should move away from unconscious bias training, with it being replaced by:
    • new interventions such as mandated sponsorship groups to ensure wider exposure of ethnic minority individuals to their peers
    • training for all employees in their professional and personal lives, which can benefit disadvantaged groups
  • the development of new resources - with the Commission calling on the Government to work with a panel of academics to develop resources and evidence-based approaches for strategies that are known to be successful in this area in order to advance fairness
  • the role of staff in pushing for change - looking at:
    • the use of employee support networks
    • the 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 - looking at key steps employers can take to safeguard staff following the end of the current restrictions, with some ethnic minority groups at greater risk from COVID-19, such as:
    • individual risk assessments
    • encouraging employees to raise concerns
  • government support - what more might be needed, including guidance for businesses
  • security of employment - assessing key priorities for the future, 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
    • ways in which support can be offered to those working in particular sectors and on zero-hours contracts
  • recruitment - the role of recruitment companies in increasing ethnic minority employment rates as the UK emerges from the pandemic

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities:
    • announced by the Government in July to examine inequality in the UK, particularly in health, education, criminal justice and employment, with its findings recently published
    • 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 the 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
    • 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, focusing on employment alongside other areas

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 Cabinet Office; Cluster 2 Security Unit; the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; Defra; the Department for Education; the Department of Health and Social Care; the Department for Transport; the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform; the DWP; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; the Government Legal Department; the Health and Safety Executive; HM Revenue & Customs; HM Prison and Probation Service; the Home Office; the Intellectual Property Office; Judicial Office; the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Justice; the National Audit Office; the National Probation Service; the Office of Statistics Regulation; Ofcom; Ofsted; the Social Mobility Commission; 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 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

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