One in five (20%) BAME employees believe discrimination has played a part in a lack of career progression compared to one in ten (11%) white British employees

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According to a new survey from the CIPD, 29% of black employees say that discrimination is the reason for a lack of career progression to date, which is three times as many as white British employees.

A lack of representation at senior levels in organisations seems to withhold BAME employees belief that they can progress in an organisation, the research found. Greater diversity of people in senior positions would help boost their career progression. The survey also found that nearly a quarter (23%) of BAME respondents whose organisations don’t provide mentoring said they would find it useful in achieving their potential at work.

Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “There is clearly still a long way to go until we can say that equal access to progression opportunities exists regardless of ethnic background. Discrimination is totally unacceptable - everyone has the right to bring their whole selves to work without fear of prejudice or victimisation and employers have a duty to provide a workplace that delivers that. Progress is crucial, and some of the fundamentals of business need to change to avoid having this conversation again in five years’ time.”

“Organisations need to understand where the barriers to progression for different groups lie, and use this information to level the playing field and enable talented people to reach their potential at work. They mustn’t forget though that different minority ethnic groups are facing different obstacles and that many of us have multiple and overlapping social identities, so it’s important not to assume that one solution will remove progression barriers for all. Inclusion, fairness and transparency need to be at the heart of workplace cultures, and HR has a key role to play in helping organisations to understand this, driving change through the unique insight it has about the workforce, its makeup, and by questioning existing workplace structures and culture.”

Senior management also need to take responsibility for their employees as 29% of BAME and 35% of white British employees said their career progression to date had failed to meet their expectations as a result of poor quality line management at key points in their career.

This is an issue across the board regardless of ethnicity. Just over half of employees feel they are able to talk to their managers about their career aspirations (53% BAME and 52% white British employees).

Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE adds: “This CIPD research sheds much needed light on the barriers to in-work progression for BAME individuals. Progress is being made, but it is slow and uneven. What is clear is that data is king. Employers must have a better, evidence-based understanding of their workforce to be able to take effective action. I believe publishing pay gaps by race and pay band will improve transparency and will ensure that employers are focusing on the right problems and taking appropriate action. We also need to be showcasing those organisations who are making substantial progress to embolden others to follow.

“The HR profession has a central role in speeding up progress by ensuring that people management practices and organisation cultures are built on the principles of trust, equality, fairness and inclusion. HR is also uniquely placed to address discrimination that we know still occurs, whether overt or through unconscious bias. I welcome the CIPD’s commitment to taking forward this agenda with its members and to support employers more widely to drive sustainable change in their organisations.