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Racial discrimination still rife in UK businesses, study finds

African american businesswoman giving presentation to executive team in meeting room, black business coach or employee working with flipchart reporting about work result, explaining new project idea
Black employees are more than twice as likely to experience racial discrimination compared to Asians and mixed ethnic minorities. Photo: Getty (fizkes via Getty Images)

Racial discrimination is still rife in UK businesses, despite targeted support for ethnic minority employees.

According to a new report, called ‘The Equity Effect’ by Henley Business School, Black employees were found to be worst off.

Racial equity means all employees are valued and treated fairly (even if this means being treated differently) irrespective of their race and culture, under the belief that strength comes through diversity.

The report found that businesses which actively confront inequity and racism with practical measures, can expect to see an improvement in their employees’ job satisfaction, loyalty, creativity and, ultimately, value, recording an average revenue 58% higher than those who did not.


Along with this, the research showed that these businesses are also more likely to benefit from enhanced staff loyalty and creativity, also ultimately leading to value.

Watch: Social psychologist Dr Jennifer Eberhardt on how to manage racial bias

Despite this progress however, Henley’s research showed there are still fundamental issues to address in eliminating racism in the workplace.

Black employees are more than twice as likely to experience racial discrimination compared to Asians and mixed ethnic minorities (19% v 9% and 8%).

Read more: Why our good ideas come at night – and how to harness that power at work

In terms of how this manifests, the leading form of discriminatory action cited by ethnic minorities is discrimination in work allocation (41%).

Verbal abuse is second (33%), and following this, for it’s Inappropriate and unfair application of work policies or rules (29%).

When it comes to recognising the racial inequity, White business leaders are significantly less likely to have seen discrimination in their organisation in comparison to those from an ethnic minority background (30% v 47%).

It therefore doesn’t bode well that 70% of those surveyed said their senior leadership was White.

Lead researcher, Dr Naeema Pasha, director of equity, diversity and inclusion at Henley Business School said: “Racial equity and business success should not be separate conversations. It is critical to any organisation wanting to achieve its aims and ambitions in this challenging world of work.

"Of course, we all want to say that racism has no place in business, education or society. But the experience of the pandemic and social movements like Black Lives Matter have shown us that we need to shift our organisational, cultural thinking to ensure we work on racial equity – not just because it is a good thing or seen as worthy, but because it is valuable and essential to organisational success.”

Watch: #Chamberbreakers: Diversity in Business