Businesses could be forced to reveal their ethnicity pay gap under plans unveiled by the Prime Minister to help ethnic minority employees at work.
A consultation on mandatory pay reporting is among a raft of measures announced by Theresa May, who acknowledged minorities often “feel like they are hitting a brick wall” at work.
The move follows a Race Disparity Audit last year which revealed significant disparities in pay and promotion opportunities of different groups and the gender pay gap figures which showed wide discrepancies between men and women in some firms were published earlier in 2018.
Number 10 said that despite the audit, the number of firms publishing data on ethnicity and pay voluntarily “remains low”.
The consultation will run until January to allow businesses to share views on what information should be published “to allow for decisive action to be taken”, it added, while at the same time avoiding “undue burdens on businesses”.
Mrs May also unveiled a Race at Work Charter, signed by firms including accountancy giant KPMG, advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, and public sector bodies including NHS England and the Civil Service.
The charter, designed with Business in the Community (BITC), commits signatories to increasing recruitment and career progression of ethnic minority employees.
The leaders of public services including the NHS, armed forces, schools and the police are also to reveal plans to increase ethnic minority staff in senior roles, the Government said.
Mrs May said the Race at Work Charter "gives businesses a clear set of actions to work towards in helping to create greater opportunities for ethnic minority employees at work".
“Our focus is now on making sure the UK’s organisations, boardrooms and senior management teams are truly reflective of the workplaces they manage," she said.
The report published by the Government showed widely varying outcomes in areas including education, employment, health and criminal justice between Britain’s white and ethnic minority populations.
Among them was that Asian, black and other ethnic groups were disproportionately likely to be on a low income, with just 1% of non-white police officers in senior roles.
Within NHS England, it found that 18% of white job applicants shortlisted got the job, compared with 11% of ethnic minorities.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission supported the Government's action, with its chairman David Isaac saying: “Extending mandatory reporting beyond gender will raise transparency about other inequalities in the workplace and give employers the insight they need to identify and remove barriers to ethnic minority staff joining and progressing to the highest level in their organisations.”