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Wednesday 16 January 2019

Racism in the workplace

Tortoise Notes for Tonight’s ThinkIn


Problems for bame people at work are obvious at every stage of recruitment and promotion. The government wants employers to report the ethnicity pay gap as they report the gender pay gap.


“Reporting must be done in a way that is supported by both businesses and employees, to recognise the wide range of ethnic groups and legitimate staff concerns about intrusiveness where sample sizes are small.”
Matthew Fell
CBI Chief UK Policy Director, 2018


Stage 1 – Shortlist


Dear Tanyaradzwa Nyenwa,

Thank you for your application for the role of junior office person. We would like to invite you for interview on Feb 30th.

Yours sincerely,
Head of HR

  • National figures showing the likelihood of bame workers being shortlisted for job positions are currently unavailable. The nhs is the UK’s biggest employer and the fifth biggest in the world. Its records give a good indication of the differentials between bame and white staff.
  • 30 per cent of people shortlisted for jobs by nhs England
    came from bame backgrounds.

House of Commons and Digital Service shortlisting 2017

BBC Case study 2017: Adam and Mohamed

The fake candidates applied for 100 jobs as business managers in London. Inside Out London sent CVs from two candidates, “Adam” and “Mohamed”, who both had identical skills and experience. In under three months, Adam was offered 12 interviews, while Mohamed was offered four.


 “The difference is getting a foot in the door… I’ve had some guys who have had to change their surname because that was an issue.”
Deji Adeoshun
Youth worker, Hackney Council Volunteering Service, The Guardian, 2018


Stage 2 – Getting the job


Dear Tanyaradzwa Nyenwa,

Thank you for attending the interview. We are delighted to offer you the job of junior office person.

Yours sincerely,
Head of HR

White applicants who were shortlisted for an NHS job in England in 2016/17 were 1.6 times as likely to be appointed compared with shortlisted applicants from ethnic minority groups.



Stage 3 – Progression


Dear Tanyaradzwa Nyenwa,

Thank you for applying for the role of senior office person. We are sorry to inform you that your application was not successful.

Yours sincerely,
Head of HR


Ernst & Young case study 2017

“…a similar pattern shows that our ethnic minority population holds fewer senior level roles contributing to an ethnicity pay gap”
Ernst & Young, Pay Gap report 2017



“Once in work, evidence shows that people from ethnic minorities progress less far and earn less money than their white counterparts”
Ethnicity Pay gap consultation, 2017

Ethnic minority representation varies considerable by both geography and leadership levels within companies

Average % ethnic/cultural minority representation by company level

Diversity in the workplace 

According to the McGregor-Smith review, full representation of bame individuals across the labour market will benefit  the UK, as much as £24 billion a year, which represents 1.3 per cent of gdp.


These notes are a primer for tonight’s ThinkIn on ‘The State of Racism in the UK: The workplace’. To book your seat at the table for tonight or future ThinkIns, click on the ThinkIn section.