Two new reports show that many employers struggle to recruit and retain Black employees and that Black employees feel they are treated unfairly in the recruitment process.
The Institute of Student Employers recently reported that only 54% of employers have a strategy to attract Black candidates to their business. Further, only 44% of employers actually track retention. Worryingly, only 22% of employers provide dedicated support to Black employees during their early careers.
Particular challenges faced by those surveyed included experiencing both explicit and covert racism, non-inclusive environments and seeing poor representation of Black people in senior positions. In addition, those surveyed were found to expend significant effort and skill into adapting to fit into predominantly white workplaces, which led to respondents feeling they had to work harder to be successful.
Another survey by Business in the Community, Race At Work 2021: The Scorecard Report, has examined the progress being made across the employer landscape against the recommendations of the government’s 2017 independent review, Race in the workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review.
The McGregor-Smith Review stated that of the benefits of inclusion of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse employees in the UK workplace was a £24bn annual income boost to the UK economy. As well as the benefits to the economy as a whole, on an individual level, being in work can instil self-confidence, boost mental health and enable people to set and achieve personal and career progression goals. Despite this, BIC’s 2021 survey found that only 34% of Black candidates felt they are treated fairly by recruitment agencies, compared with 49% of white people. This was the case despite applicants from Caribbean and African backgrounds being 71% and 67% respectively more likely to employ the services of a recruitment agency than white applicants.
What can you do as an employer?
Aside from the obvious dangers to your business in terms of race discrimination claims, it is important to recognise the daily changes that Black employees continue to face in the workplace, including explicit and covert racism and a lack of representation, especially in senior positions. So what can you do as an employer to recruit and support Black employees?
- Make sure that there is a “top down” approach in your organisation, with support and representation at all levels. Set and publish targets to improve representation and progression to senior executive and board level.
- Make equality, diversity and inclusion the responsibility of all leaders and managers. Consider setting performance objectives for managers linked to pay and reward to ensure active, conscious inclusion in their teams. Objectives should include ensuring that employees from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and other ethnically diverse backgrounds have fair access to training, development and progression opportunities.
- Take a zero-tolerance approach to harassment and discrimination – recognise that discrimination may not be overt. Remember the dangers of unconscious bias and ensure you have adequate equality, diversity and inclusion policies in place (and that they are actively implemented) and provide bias training to all members of staff.
- Maximise the potential of hires from Black heritage backgrounds and ensure your recruitment processes are not biased or discriminatory.