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Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Employment Law / 319: First report from the new Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was set up in the summer of 2020, against the background of the Black Lives Matter protests, to investigate racial and ethnic disparities and inequalities in the UK. On 31 March 2021, the Commission published its first report, which was heavily based on data collected by the government’s Race Disparity Unit over the past five years. The report makes a number of recommendations relevant to employers:

  • the Equalities and Human Rights Commission should receive additional ring-fenced funding to ensure that it can use its compliance and enforcement powers to challenge racially discriminatory policies or practices;
  • a mandatory transparency obligation should be placed on all public sector organisations which use algorithms to make significant decisions affecting individuals;
  • guidance should be issued for employers on how to apply the Equality Act 2010 to algorithmic decision-making, including guidance on collecting data to measure bias and the lawfulness of bias mitigation techniques;
  • the government should develop improved resources and materials for evidence-based diversity training to improve fairness in the workplace, to be piloted in the Civil Service in preference to unconscious bias training. Organisations should move away from unconscious bias training, replacing it with new interventions that can be properly evaluated, such as the use of mentors or specialised training in areas such as collaboration, confidence and communication;
  • all employers that choose to publish their ethnicity pay figures should also publish the reasons for any disparities and an action plan. However, the Commission did not, as had been anticipated, call for the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting;
  • the government should conduct a targeted campaign encouraging young people to take up apprenticeships in growth sectors, with the aim of benefitting, in particular, young people who face discrimination or disadvantage;
  • a ‘support for families’ review should be undertaken, including an investigation of the impact of employment and working practices, for example, looking at how employers can be encouraged to offer flexible working for single parents; and
  • the government should move away from the use of the term ‘BAME’, focusing more on understanding disparities and outcomes for specific ethnic groups.

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