Following mounting pressure on prime minister Theresa May after repeated delays to the publication of a racial disparity report, it was announced this week (October 3) that the study will be out on Tuesday, October 10.
May has said that the Racial Disparity Audit, said to be the most comprehensive report of its kind, will reveal some “uncomfortable truths” about how people of different racial backgrounds are treated in different areas of public life, such as in health, education, work and criminal justice.
The prime minister previewed some of the Audit’s findings yesterday, including the fact that white people are employed at a far higher rate than black and Asian minority ethnic groups (BAME) — nearly 80 per cent of British white people are in employment, compared to only 64 per cent of BAMEs.
The unemployment rate for BAMEs is 8 per cent, nearly double that of British white groups, whose jobless rate is only 5 per cent.
If you’re white, you’re much more likely to be a homeowner — two in three white British householders own their own home, compared to only two in five in other ethnic groups.
Stark divides exist in education as well, with 9 in 10 head teachers being white British. White pupils from state schools had the lowest university entry rate in 2016.
To tackle large employment gaps, the prime minister has outlined a series of actions the government has planned to take, including expanding mentoring programmes to help people into work, targeting additional traineeship programmes for young people and working with employers to help close the employment gap by, among other steps, identifying good recruitment practices.
But Unite national officer for equalities Harish Patel has said that the prime minister’s proposed solutions are disappointing and superficial.
“While some of the key statistics announced this week in the run-up to the publication of the report are welcome, there’s a big difference between identifying the problem and solving it. There’s nothing particularly new or shocking in these findings — we’ve known for a long time from previous studies that there are big racial divides in nearly every aspect of our society, whether that’s in work, health or education.
“Nowhere has the prime minister indicated that she wants to involve trade unions in closing the racial disparity gap in employment, when trade unions are at the heart of working towards a more equal workplace.”
“She forgets too that actions taken by her party in this government and previous ones have actively worked against closing racial employment divides. These include watering down the Equality Duty in the public sector, with May’s predecessor David Cameron calling the Duty a ‘burden’ and ‘extra tick box stuff’, as well as massive funding cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which plays a pivotal role in enforcing the Equality Act.”
Patel explained what Unite is doing to close racial gaps in employment, highlighting Unite’s Strategy for Equality.
He said, “Unite is dedicated to ensuring that discrimination and institutional racism and bias in all their forms are eradicated from the workplace.
“This includes measures to tackle the under representation of BAME workers at all levels, bargaining for ethnic monitoring at the workplace, making sure members have access to equality reps and educating on race equality.
“Opposing race discrimination and promoting equality for all is a central tenet of trade unionism. That’s why Unite is committed to helping close the disgraceful gap in employment and access to health, education and the criminal justice system that exists between people of different ethnicities.”
“If the prime minister really wants to take effective action in ensuring equal access to work, we welcome her embracing the role trade unions have played and will continue to play in the future. For a start, the government must grant statutory rights to equality reps. We cannot allow the publication of Theresa May’s Racial Disparity to Audit to be merely another public relations exercise.”