Data deficit hampering careers of ethnic minority and disabled employees

Most employers are failing to collect information on how many disabled or ethnic minority workers they employ, which is putting their careers at risk, according to a new report.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called for mandatory reporting on staff recruitment, retention and promotion by ethnicity and disability, saying the lack of information was “worrying”.

Just 3% of organisations measure differences in pay and progression between different ethnicities and disabled and non-disabled staff, said the EHRC.

Most employers agreed it was a priority to have a diverse workforce, but fewer than half collected data on whether workers were disabled, and only a third monitored employee ethnicity.

Just over half of 435 employers surveyed said they faced barriers to collecting the data, such as being too obtrusive or onerous.

Caroline Waters, deputy chairwoman of the EHRC, said: “We’ve seen how mandatory reporting has led to employers redoubling efforts to address their gender pay gaps.

“We need the same level of scrutiny and focused action on opportunities for disabled and ethnic minority staff in the workplace.

“By not identifying and taking action to tackle unfairness in recruitment, retention and progression, employers are putting the careers of their ethnic minority and disabled staff at a disadvantage.

“Collecting meaningful data will give employers the insight they need to tackle the underlying causes of inequality and ensure that disabled people and those from ethnic minorities enjoy a working environment that allows them to reach their full potential.”

Neil Heslop (pictured), chief executive of the Leonard Cheshire charity, said: “This report highlights the barriers to disabled people entering and progressing in the workplace.

“It underscores the need for employers to appropriately collect and use quality data to develop careers and assure fair remuneration.

“Too many disabled people are worried about declaring their disability in fear of being discriminated against. Our own research found that more than a fifth of employers say they would be less likely to employ someone if they have a disability.”

Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, said: “This research rightly finds that improving workforce diversity is a priority for businesses.

“It’s true that what gets measured gets done, so businesses will welcome steps to help them collect diversity data, set targets and track progress, as well as understand the issues faced by different groups of workers.

“Any reporting must be done in a way that is supported by both businesses and employees, to avoid companies doing the bare minimum and to address legitimate staff concerns about intrusiveness where sample sizes are small.”

A Government spokesman said: “We want to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to progress in the workplace and achieve their potential.

“It’s really promising that 600,000 more disabled people have moved into work in the last four years, but we want to go much further, and we’re committed to seeing one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

“Last year we published the McGregor-Smith review which set out what employers can do to improve ethnic diversity within their organisations, including encouraging employers to report their ethnicity pay gap.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Leonard Cheshire.