Press release

Review launched to help BME workers progress in their careers

A consultation aimed at black and minority ethnic people has been launched to help understand the obstacles they face in the labour market.

  • evidence shows people from BME backgrounds less likely to progress in the workplace than white counterparts
  • investigation into why and how this can be changed
  • government seeking evidence on economic and personal impact

The business leader investigating why black and minority ethnic (BME) people find it more difficult to progress into managerial and senior positions than their white counterparts is calling on people to share their views.

In February 2016, Business Secretary Sajid Javid asked Baroness McGregor-Smith, chief executive officer of the FTSE 250 company, Mitie Group plc, to find out what is holding BME talent back and recommend ways of breaking down these barriers.

Baroness McGregor-Smith said:

Right now people of BME backgrounds in the UK do not excel in the workplace at the same rate as their white counterparts.

We need to understand what the obstacles are that are preventing them to do so, and take strong actions to overcome them.

The call for evidence launched today (10 May 2016) is aimed at people from all BME communities across Great Britain to help Baroness McGregor-Smith understand the obstacles faced by people in the labour market, from recruitment through to executive level.

Businesses and third sector organisations are also being called upon to take part in the review. To coincide with the launch, Baroness McGregor-Smith is hosting a roundtable event with some of the country’s largest private sector employers.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

Everyone should have the opportunity to get their dream job. That is why I asked Baroness McGregor-Smith to undertake this review and find out why people from BME backgrounds find it more difficult to reach the top.

I urge everyone who has experience of trying to progress in work to take part in this review. Employers need to back their workforces and I am also calling on them to make sure everybody has a fair chance to succeed.

Later this year, Baroness McGregor-Smith will publish the findings of her independent review into the obstacles that people from different communities face in the labour market, what impact this has on the economy and employers, and, for the first time, will bring together data that shows the extent of the problem.

The review will also include recommendations to government and business on how BME talent can be fully utilised by employers as well as highlighting best practice from across the public and private sectors.

Notes to editors:

  1. The call for evidence will close on 22 August 2016

  2. The latest BME employment statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in April 2016 show that more people from ethnic minority backgrounds are in work than ever before.

  3. The government is committed to extending opportunity to everyone, regardless of their race, colour or religion. A number of targets have been set to improve the labour market chances of all. These are:

    • increasing the proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people from BME backgrounds by 20%
    • increasing the number of BME students going to university by 20%
    • ensuring that 20,000 start-up loans are awarded to BME applicants by 2020
    • increasing BME employment by 20% by 2020
    • increasing the diversity of the armed forces
    • increasing the diversity of police recruitment

A cross-government Ministerial group is overseeing work to ensure these targets are met. More information about its first meeting and a list of members of the group.