Only 3% of UK employers measure ethnicity or disability pay gaps, research shows

While 77 per cent of employers say ensuring workforce diversity is a priority, only 44 per cent record or collect data on ethnicity or disabilities

Caitlin Morrison
Thursday 30 August 2018 09:27 BST
The gender pay gap explained

Just 3 per cent of UK employers measure their ethnicity or disability pay gaps, according to research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Research carried out by the EHRC showed that people who have a disability or are from an ethnic minority background are still “more likely to experience discrimination in recruitment, promotion and pay reward decisions” and are also more likely to be in part-time, lower-skilled, and/or lower-paid work, and in jobs with shorter contracts.

And while 77 per cent of employers say ensuring workforce diversity is a priority, only 44 per cent record or collect data on whether staff are disabled, while only 36 per cent keep a record of ethnicity. Only 23 per cent collect data on staff pay that can be broken down according to ethnicity and disability.

Just over half of employers told the EHRC that they face barriers to collecting this information because it is “too intrusive and onerous”.

Researchers also found that employers “tend to use binary categories” such as white/BAME and disabled/non-disabled when reporting, which “disguises vast differences between pay gaps for different ethnic minority groups or for people with different impairments”. For example, Bangladeshi men born in the UK experience a 26 per cent pay gap compared with white British men.

The commission warned that ethnic minority and disabled people’s careers are at risk due to the lack of “meaningful data” about representation in the workplace, and called for mandatory reporting on staff recruitment, retention and promotion by ethnicity and disability.

Legislation requiring organisations with 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gap came into force last year.

The EHRC’s deputy chair, Caroline Waters, said: “We’ve seen how mandatory reporting has led to employers redoubling efforts to address their gender pay gaps. We need the same level of scrutiny and focused action on opportunities for disabled and ethnic minority staff in the workplace.

“By not identifying and taking action to tackle unfairness in recruitment, retention and progression, employers are putting the careers of their ethnic minority and disabled staff at a disadvantage.”

Ms Waters said: “Collecting meaningful data will give employers the insight they need to tackle the underlying causes of inequality and ensure that disabled people and those from ethnic minorities enjoy a working environment that allows them to reach their full potential.

“Our research has shown that first we need to support employers to collect and analyse data on staff ethnicity and disability and reassure employees about how their information will be used.”

Responding to the research, a government spokesperson said: “We want to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to progress in the workplace and achieve their potential. It’s really promising that 600,000 more disabled people have moved into work in the last four years. But we want to go much further, and we’re committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

“Last year we published the McGregor-Smith review which set out what employers can do to improve ethnic diversity within their organisations, including encouraging employers to report their ethnicity pay gap.”

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