Communities secretary Hazel Blears has urged human resources professionals to get out more to attract more black and minority ethnic (BME) workers.
Speaking exclusively to Personneltoday.com, Blears said the role for HR in attracting more BME people into work was to go to the places where different communities live, and encourage them to apply for positions.
Currently, the ethnic minority share of the working age population stands at 9.3% or 3.26 million people, according to 2004 Department for Work and Pensions figures. The latest Office for National Statistic figures (2002-03) state that the employment rate for white people working in the UK is 75.5%, compared to just 57.3% for non-white groups.
"HR can explain that the jobs they've got on offer can be done by a whole range of different backgrounds, but that means going out recruiting in different places - going to places where people themselves feel comfortable," said Blears.
She blamed a "confidence bridge" between BME applicants wanting to apply and actually applying for jobs.
"I meet time and time again, particularly women in the BME community, who say 'I couldn't possibly do that', but of course they can. They've got the skills and talent but there's a confidence bridge so I think if HR professionals can go out and actually put their ads in a way that positively encourages people to apply, then you've got a much better chance of getting BME in."