Almost a third (32%) of all black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees have witnessed or experienced racism from colleagues in the last five years.
With more than 24,000 responses, the survey is the largest race at work survey to ever take place in the UK, meaning that around 7,826 people reported seeing racist bullying or harassment since 2010.
Managerial staff are not in the clear either, with 28% of BAME employees witnessing or experiencing racial bullying by their managers in the same period. This rises to almost 40% for employees from a Pakistani or other Asian background.
Sandra Kerr OBE, director of BITC’s race initiative, said, “No matter which data set we look at, the results clearly expose a concerning issue in many of the UK’s workplaces.
“The percentage of employees experiencing or witnessing racial harassment or bullying in the workplace is far too high, and needs immediate action.”
The survey took responses from 24,457 employees throughout the UK. Including perspectives from a full range of demographics, the survey found that while BAME employees have greater ambition than their white colleagues, just 55% report feeling that they are valued in their team.
Across the UK as a whole, the BAME population is one in eight. Despite that fact, only one in 10 employees has a BAME background, dropping to one in 16 for management positions.
Speaking to economia, Kerr added that, for some employees, work was still a difficult environment. “We ran a report in 2010 – 22% BAME people reported racial bullying then,” she said. “Work is a tough place for some people.”
Kerr explained that, in terms of making work and career advancement more accessible for people from BAME backgrounds, financial and professional services firms were “leading the way”.
Race at Work calls on the government to ensure that in 2016 the UK corporate governance code’s definition for diversity is changed to include “and race”, as well as drawing up policy framework to close the persistent employment gap.
“It is clear that ethnic minorities’ experiences of work are still not equal to their white peers,” Kerr continued.
“Despite having greater enjoyment and ambition for work, the experience of the workplace processes and cultures for BAME employees is certainly not ideal. This is compounded by the extremely worrying finding that incidents of racial harassment and bullying appear to be on the rise.
“The scale of this challenge is immense and needs immediate action. As a result, we are making specific recommendations to both government and employers to ensure that the voices of 24,457 people are heard.”
Jonathan Ashong Lamptey, PhD Researcher London School of Economics, said, “It is encouraging to see evidence that BAME employees are both motivated to progress in the workplace and interested in fast track management programmes. These results are particularly revealing given the report’s findings that BAME employees are not being identified as having high potential in their organisations and facing increasing racial harassment and bullying at work.
“Despite decades of progress, the report shows that BAME employees still face disadvantage in the workplace. We have already seen how effective the Davies Report was in motivating British businesses to change their attitudes to gender representation. The report calls for a similar investigation for ethnicity in the workplace, perhaps this may be as effective,” he added.
Richard Iferenta, a tax partner from Big Four firm KPMG, said, “Race at Work reveals the great opportunities for employers to capitalise on the appetite for bigger and bolder roles expressed by BAME employees.
“At KPMG we recognise that by unlocking the leadership potential of diverse talent, we bring innovation to our clients, mobility to our communities and value to the UK economy.
“All employers share the responsibility to make opportunity the norm for future generations.