New sanctions on employers could be on the cards after the government published research that revealed widespread racial discrimination in recruitment procedures.
Employment minister Jim Knight hinted that tough new measures could be introduced following the findings of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) study, which uncovered that workers with African and Asian names were victimised when it came to applying for jobs.
Researchers sent nearly 3,000 job applications to employers in the private, public and voluntary sectors. They found that for every nine applications sent by a white applicant, an equally good applicant with an ethnic minority name had to send 16 to obtain a positive response.
Knight revealed his department would introduce specific plans to deal with discrimination in the workplace later this year. He said: “This research clearly shows that some employers are discriminating when it comes to choosing staff. This has no place in a modern society, and racial discrimination cannot be allowed to continue.
“We are determined to stop this scourge on society – the Equality Bill will strengthen our hand and we are already preparing to publish specific plans for dealing with discrimination in the workplace later this year.”
A DWP spokesman could not expand on the details of the plans but said they would be published before Christmas.
Personnel Today‘s sister title Employers’ Law first reported on the race discrimination investigation in July.
Sandra Kerr, national campaign director at membership organisation Race for Opportunity, described the findings as “deeply troubling”. She said: “More worrying is that more than 30 years after the Race Relations Act there has been a lack of real progress on this issue.
“In the current climate of rising unemployment, we must act swiftly to eradicate bias and prevent the ethnic minority employment gap from widening further. This is not the time for employers to bury their heads in the sand.”
Ronnie Fox, principal of Fox Solicitors, said: “It is no surprise to read that racist stereotyping is still a common problem. One of the functions of legislation is to change attitudes in a fundamental way. In the case of anti-discrimination legislation, a radical change to a more enlightened approach might take a generation or more to achieve.”