Government report shows major disadvantages facing ethnic minorities – what ELBA is doing about it
The Government today has published its “audit” of the experience of ethnic minorities. As it turns out, this is more a collection of existing data brought together in a new website. Nevertheless it is a useful contribution to the debate – one which ELBA and London Works – and many of our business partners – have been championing for some time. The website shows that across a range of experiences – criminal justice, health, education, employment, unemployment and earnings, ethnic minorities in Britain have less good outcomes than their white counterparts. But it’s not just about ethnicity – in some instances, the experience of white people from low income households is the same or worse than others. It’s complex, but we at ELBA have been saying for some time that data transparency is the conversation starter needed.
One set of data missing in my view is that which shows the higher education performance of those from ethnic minorities, and their subsequent earnings and career progression (see the Resolution Foundation report). This shows that despite people doing all they can to work hard and get good qualifications, they still don’t get the same opportunities as white groups with equivalent qualifications.
As the Prime Minister promised, it’s a sobering read. She has also said that the figures are a challenge to us all to do something about it. Challenge accepted. Here are five things ELBA and London Works are either already doing or intend to do – and we hope we will not be alone.
- Access to higher level earnings and senior careers
We are working with businesses who have major intakes of graduates each year to encourage them to recruit on potential, not just on CV or university attended. The challenge to them is to deliberately set out to recruit people “not like us”. Set out to pick people who don’t think, look, sound like yourself – see how a ‘different’ type of talent can help your business. Reports such as that by Baroness MaGregor-Smith show that there are bottom line benefits to recruiting a more diverse intake. Just to be clear, we are advocating that intakes should look at social mobility and class backgrounds as well as ethnic origin.
- Measure how people progress – and report on it
Children from the Other, Asian and Black ethnic groups were more likely to live in households with a low income than children in White households.Getting into a job is just the start. The key to improved earnings parity is promotion and progression into higher income brackets. There is evidence (LSE – The Class Ceiling) that people from disadvantaged backgrounds do not progress once in work. The challenge we are working on with our employer partners is to have active development and promotion campaigns – and to report progress for different groups in the same way they report at the point of entry.
- Not everyone wants to or should go to university – show the alternative
The new school curriculum with its concentration on academic Ebac subjects means that for many school students who do not have academic gifts or inclination, there is little to aim for right from Year 7. That’s a waste of talent and very disheartening for those students. The revival in Apprenticeships offers a great alternative and we will be working with schools, employers, colleges, parents universities and anyone else who is interested to promote them as an attractive and equal status route right from the early years in schools. Employers like KPMG are showing the way by opening up routes into the accountancy profession via the apprenticeship route. Others should follow.
- Balance all your pre-work activity
We are working with employers to say whatever you do, don’t stop doing work experience, student placements, internships (paid of course), grad schemes etc because you are concerned you might be showing unconscious bias. Take the other route, and for every work experience place, internship etc that you understandably want to open up for the families of your staff, balance it by taking a person from outside your circle of contacts. There are many organisations who will connect you with young people with interest, drive and ambition. Then keep in touch with them and the chances are they will make great recruits whenever they are ready to quit education and join the world of work.We will be encouraging businesses who send their employees into schools to provide careers inspiration and to encourage young people to set their sights high – always a popular volunteering activity – to match that with a commitment to at least offer young people from those areas and backgrounds equal access to interviews and recruitment schemes when they leave education. No point telling school students to aim for the stars if they find it’s a wasted journey when they get there.
- Let’s try and rapidly increase the number of BAME teachers in schools
This is a new one for us. I was struck by just how few teachers and headteachers there are from ethnic minority backgrounds. 86.5% of all teachers were White British, with 13.4% of all teachers from an ethnic minority (including White minorities), and just 7% of headteachers were not from white British backgrounds.In our work in schools and with undergraduates and graduates we will be doing what we can to promote teaching as a good career option. Having more people from BAME backgrounds in schools can only be a good thing.
That’s my five. What are yours?