Ethnic minority British workers are just as likely than their white counterparts to be employed in a professional role, research suggests.
According to Civitas, a think-tank associated with right of centre thought, one in six non-white British workers are in top professional roles compared with one in eight white British workers.
In Defence of British Openness’ conclusions take the view that comparing the prospects of black people in the UK to other European countries also reveals a positive picture, “despite real problems that exist”.
Civitas is based at 55 Tufton Street, the home of pro-Brexit groups and others that have been opposed to action against climate change, and the report will be seen as part of the argument put forward in last year’s Sewell report which found that structural racism was not holding back people from ethnic minorities in the UK.
Civitas found that a quarter of British workers with Indian and Chinese origins (24%) were in the top “higher managerial and professional” classes – twice the proportion of white British people. In contrast, only 7% of black British workers occupied top roles.
The report argues that certain government interventions, such as “graduatisation” and the apprenticeship levy, have penalised working-class people from all parts of the community by increasing the costs of getting on in life, as well as causing the supply of apprenticeships to dry up.
Diversity and inclusion
The study’s publication comes before the government’s response to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ (known as the Sewell report) findings on race and ethnic disparities, which is due to be published next month. Sewell’s report appeared to ignore many of the findings of David Lammy MP, who had been commissioned to examine the effects of racism in the UK in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, who found evidence of structural racism.
Instead the Commission placed an emphasis on the UK’s achievements in racial equality and drew attention to segments of the white population falling behind. It said “another revelation from our dive into the data was just how stuck some groups from the white majority are.”
Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch described Civitas’s findings as an “important contribution to the national debate on race and ethnicity”.
Civitas’s study found that white British citizens had average wealth or assets of £166,000, but Indian citizens were not far behind with £144,000. Black Caribbean citizens had average assets of £84,000, still higher than Bangladeshi and Pakistani people, whose total medium wealth was £22,800 and £52,000 respectively.
In education Chinese, Indian and Bangladeshi pupils outperformed white British children. Pakistani and black Caribbean pupils did worse, however.
The share of black pupils getting “good grades” in GCSE exams has gone from 23% in 1991 to 59% in 2019. For Asian pupils it has gone from 33 to 71% over the same period, and for white pupils the corresponding figures are 37% and 64%.
Richard Norrie, director of the statistics and policy research at Civitas, said policymakers needed to assess disparities in the round in order to make informed decisions. He added that the Sewell report was justifiably criticised for being too technocratic and in its assumption that “third parties can ‘manufacture agency’ to bring about improvements in the behaviour of other people”.
He said: “We need to reconsider our approach to race in the UK to focus on the shared responsibility to uphold British institutions and identity and to build on our successes. We don’t need to be called ‘denialists’ when the facts show improvements.”
The report’s introduction refers to the “newly concocted ritual of ‘taking the knee’, most notably performed by England’s football players and the opposition leader, Sir Keir Starmer”.
‘Divisive attempt to diminish realities’
Alba Kapoor, senior policy manager at the race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, said the report was part of a strategy to diminish the impact of structural racism. She said: “We of course welcome Britain’s growing multi-ethnic middle class, but we should not use this to ignore the realities facing our many ethnic minority working class communities. This new analysis is part of an ongoing divisive attempt to diminish the realities of structural racism in our society. What it misses out is evidence that over half of Britain’s ethnic minority children are living in poverty, rising to 60% for Bangladeshi children, and that black African and Bangladeshi households have 10 times less wealth than white British households.
“As these new figures suggest, a tiny minority of black British workers occupy top jobs, which correlates with the stark employment disparities facing black people in our society.
“We would all hope that racism has reduced over the past 30 years, but levels of racism in the UK still remain glaringly high. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century almost a quarter of black people have reported instances of racial harassment over the last five years. This analysis also omits statistics that show that the number of police recorded race hate crimes reported to the Home Office which have steadily risen since 2016 – with a 12% rise from 2019 to 2021 alone.”