BT tops Race for Opportunity’s equality index

BT is the most race-friendly organisation to work for, according to an equality campaigner.

Race for Opportunity’s annual equality index found the communications giant showed the best practice when it came to race diversity in the workplace, swiftly followed by media group Pearson.

The benchmarking survey is a detailed study of race diversity trends in the UK, operating since 2001. This year the index studied 79 organisations, representing 1.5 million employees and equivalent to 4% of the UK’s working-age population.

The top five public and private sector organisations for race diversity were:

  • BT
  • Pearson
  • Ministry of Defence
  • Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now part of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills)
  • Home Office

The Ministry of Defence was found to be the most race-friendly public sector employer according to the benchmark. West Midlands Police and the British Army, both commended for their commitment to race issues, were ranked fourth and fifth respectively.

More than 90% of those benchmarked were monitoring the ethnicity of their workforce and applicants; communicating race policies to recruitment agencies and suppliers; and demonstrating a commitment to engaging with ethnic minority stakeholders, including customers, clients and their local communities.

However, the glass ceiling for ethnic minorities still existed, the survey found. Only 4.3% of board-level employees were from an ethnic minority background, compared to 8.5% in the total workforce.

Sandra Kerr, national campaign director at Race for Opportunity, said: “Even among this elite group of employers, ethnic minorities remain worryingly far behind. Without very targeted action to speed up the progression of ethnic minorities in employment – programmes designed to get ethnic minorities into senior positions for example – the inequality that exists within organisations will persist.”

Kerr said that if employers were to force suppliers to sign up to minimum standards on race diversity, as BT does, the UK could make real progress on tackling the under-representation of ethnic minorities.

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