In support of Black Lives Matter young people from black, Asian, white and all ethnic backgrounds took to the streets last year to demand the end to systemic and everyday racism, especially in policing. They wanted to see government acceptance of the problem and effective action to eradicate racism in all its forms.
Sadly, these young people have been let down by this report. Regrettably, none of the Commission’s 24 recommendations deal with the significant discrimination and racism faced by black, Asian and mixed heritage communities in the UK.
A recent BTEG survey of 250 ethnic minority young people from across the UK found that black and Asian young people consider that, after the Covid pandemic, racial discrimination is the most important issue affecting their lives.
No one is denying that there has been progress in the UK over the past 50 years, but we should be a lot further ahead in education, employment and the criminal justice system for all ethnic groups.
We had expected the Government to make ethnic pay gap reporting mandatory for companies of a certain size. This issue remains significant and was a key recommendation made by the McGregor-Smith Review four years ago. Publishing this data on pay and grade is part of the evidence base needed to show if there is an institutional problem.
BTEG also wanted a recommendation to strengthen the Equality Act 2010, moving on from the tick box approach to the Public Sector Equality Duty, by requiring all public bodies to develop and publish regular action plans to close race disparities where they exist.
We are very disappointed with the direction the Commission has chosen to take in denying the existence and importance of institutional and structural racism. Not accepting the root causes will always lead to wrong analysis and the wrong solutions.
The evidence on the Government’s Ethnicity Facts and Figures website shows many public bodies are grappling with significant race disparities in their workforces and service delivery. There is often a lack of black, Asian and minority ethnic representation at senior levels. This is especially the case for people from African and Caribbean communities.
One quarter of secondary school leavers are black, Asian and minority ethnic. Yet only 7% of young people aged 16 to 18 starting an apprenticeship are from black, Asian and mixed ethnic backgrounds. The Commission recommends a ‘targeted campaign to inform young people facing discrimination and disadvantage of the full range of career pathways open to them and encourage them to take up apprenticeships in growth sectors.’ This recommendation fundamentally avoids tackling unfair and discriminatory employer recruitment practices in sectors including construction, engineering and technology, where black, Asian and other ethnic minority people continue to be under-represented in jobs and apprenticeships. Far too much recruitment in the UK relies of word-of-mouth recruitment, informal methods, attending the right schools and universities, and looking like the recruiters and having similar sounding names.
Jeremy Crook OBE, Chief Executive, says:
“It is now clear to black, Asian and mixed heritage people that the Race & Ethnicity Commission has failed to grasp the considerable evidence of institutional and structural racism in the UK. We call on the Government to rethink its approach and review the 24 recommendations in this report. BTEG will continue to work with black, Asian and mixed heritage communities and with our allies across all sectors to end racial inequalities.”
Seema Manchanda, Chair of BTEG, says:
“Racism and discrimination are real, embedded and complex issues experienced by many people day to day across the UK. This report has brushed them under the carpet in an act of complacent disregard.”
The Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) is a London based national charity working to achieve race equality and improve outcomes for ethnic minority people in education, employment and enterprise. For more information about BTEG visit www.bteg.co.uk.
For more information about this press release contact Jeremy Crook: Email Jeremy@bteg.co.uk Mob: 07766114877
For the period August 2019 to April 2020 (the most recent published data), of Apprenticeship starts by under 19 year olds 7.2% are from black, Asian and mixed ethnic groups.
BTEG address: 200a Pentonville Road, London N1 9JP. Registered charity No: 1056043