Public sector fails in duty to set ethnic staff targets

11 per cent of public-sector employers have set targets to increase the
proportion of staff from ethnic minorities, despite the implementation of the
Race Relations Amendment Act, according to a study by Unison.

The Act became law in April and puts a duty on all public-sector bodies to
actively promote racial equality.

But Unison’s survey reveals that only just over half of employers are
satisfied that the ethnic diversity of their workforce represents the community
that they serve.

More than one in three employers admitted that ethnic minorities were under
represented in their organisation, and 39 per cent said the situation had not
changed over the past year.

The report also states that only 14 per cent of employers have a system to
address the promotion of under-represented groups, and just over one in five
monitor their policies on harassment.

"There is a surprising under-representation of black and ethnic
minority workers in the public sector. Employers should agree action plans to
set targets and have a proper review system. They should develop policies and
treat seriously harassment of black staff by service users and consistently
monitor employment patterns," said Unison’ general secretary Dave Prentis.

Socpo president Keith Handley said, "I am surprised and a little
disappointed that only 11 per cent of public-sector employers have set targets
to change and increase their black and ethnic minority workforce, as this is
one of the key components of the Act.

"As well as improving the overall workforce composition, one of the key
issues is to increase the number of black and ethnic minority colleagues in
senior positions and to achieve this authorities need to have appropriate
career progression and development policies in place."

The survey polled 440 public-sector employers in April.

By Paul Nelson

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