Working with the University of Manchester’s Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity to analyse data from the Implicit Association Test*, we found that 70.1 per cent of UK 18-24 year olds had unconscious racial bias – more than any other age group. This finding strongly suggests that addressing unconscious bias within younger recruits needs serious attention from employers. Our research also shows unconscious racial bias is common in many sectors, from the military, food service, transport and engineering, to arts and education. Although this does not necessarily imply that these sectors or people working in them are inherently racist, it does mean conscious effort is required to ensure that workplaces across all sectors are not excluding candidates or employees and that they have truly inclusive cultures for all employees within their organisations. Britain is becoming increasingly diverse – we have more women in work than ever before, one in five of the UK population will come from a BAME background by 2051, and the rising state pension age means more people are working for longer. Employers must ensure they harness all the talent available to them, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, and develop recruitment and progression processes that are equal, inclusive and open to all employees. Here are our top tips to do just that: 1. Introduce mandatory unconscious bias training for all staff involved in recruitment, with a focus on race and gender, and ensure this is regularly refreshed. Make sure training covers all aspects of the recruitment process and that it is undertaken by external agencies and internal employees. 2. Ensure you have diverse recruitment panels, where ethnic minority people, women and older workers are included at each stage of recruitment, assessment and promotion processes where possible. 3. Set and publish recruitment targets for diversity – and ensure that senior leaders are held accountable for achieving them. Make external recruitment agencies aware of these targets too. 4. Measure and monitor recruitment of women, ethnic minorities (segmented by ethnicity where possible) and older workers at each stage of the process. Use this data to identify gaps and barriers in your recruitment processes and ensure they are accessible to everyone. 5. Use a variety of recruitment channels to reach the widest possible talent pool. This could include adding images of employee diversity to literature and websites, looking outside the traditional ‘milk round’ universities and showcasing the variety of roles within sectors (such as the recent #ilooklikeanengineer Twitter campaign). 6. Extend apprenticeships to employees of all ages, including older workers looking to retrain. 7. Clearly communicate flexible working where possible. This is something that older workers, as well as men and women, are looking for in future employers. 8. Encourage employees to take part in Business in the Community’s race at work survey, which is open until 13th September at http://www.raceatwork.org.uk
Sandra Kerr OBE is race equality director at Business in the Community*The Implicit Association Test is an online test designed to help individuals understand their unconscious bias. The data reflects 2.5 million participants across the UK, the US and 17 Western European nations.
Share this story