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Why isn’t the ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory?


About this ThinkIn

How can we make sure more companies commit to reporting on the ethnicity pay gap?

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Theresa May’s government opened a consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting in 2018. It received 300 responses before it closed in January 2019. Since then, nothing.

Gender pay gap reporting has been mandatory for companies with over 250 employees since 2018, and although it was paused in 2020 due to the pandemic, many companies have published this year anyway.

Some big companies have voluntarily published their ethnicity pay gaps for some time, yet opponents to making ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory often cite issues with data as a key barrier. Even large companies may have small numbers of employees in each of the sub-categories making data comparisons difficult, but lumping everybody into a binary “non-White British” category isn’t acceptable either. Processing and storing information about employees’ ethnic identity can itself be legally sensitive.

If the introduction of ethnicity pay gap reporting is a matter of ‘how’ rather than ‘if’, and what steps can and should be taken to unblock progress?

Chair: James Harding, Editor and Co-founder, Tortoise

Our special guests are:

Dr Halima Begum, Director, Runnymede Trust joined Runnymede in 1998 as a young researcher on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, before taking up positions with Action Aid and the LSE Centre for Civil Society.She has also held senior leadership positions with a range of influential organisations, including First Secretary with Department for International Development (DFID), Director of the British Council in Asia, and Vice President of the LEGO Foundation.

Tom Heys, Legal Analyst – Employment, Lewis Silkin is an expert in gender pay gap reporting and has more than a decade’s experience handling every aspect of employment law, and his work gives him a deep knowledge and experience of all aspects of gender pay issues. At Lewis Silkin he conducts analyses of pay data to help clients identify the causes of their pay gaps, and how they might reduce them. He has also carried out equal pay reviews to identify areas of risk for clients, and provided solutions to minimise this risk by making changes to pay systems. Tom also runs the popular website www.agediscrimination.info, and also speaks in the media about religion and belief issues in the workplace.

Steve Collinson, UK Head of People, Zurich Insurance has been with Zurich for over 30 years, in a career which has seen him drive and deliver major initiatives within HR, Communications, Finance and various customer operations, in both customer-facing and business-facing senior roles. Before taking up the role of Head of the UK People Team, Steve was Head of Change and Internal Communications, where he embedded a refreshed focus on engaging employees in strategy, brand, business performance and change. Steve works alongside the UK Executive team, shaping the employee value proposition and engagement initiatives to deliver Zurich’s goal of being a great place to work. He has a particular focus on building diversity and brings leadership, passion and deep business experience to his role.

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Theresa May’s government opened a consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting in 2018. It received 300 responses before it closed in January 2019. Since then, nothing.

Gender pay gap reporting has been mandatory for companies with over 250 employees since 2018, and although it was paused in 2020 due to the pandemic, many companies have published this year anyway.

Some big companies have voluntarily published their ethnicity pay gaps for some time, yet opponents to making ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory often cite issues with data as a key barrier. Even large companies may have small numbers of employees in each of the sub-categories making data comparisons difficult, but lumping everybody into a binary “non-White British” category isn’t acceptable either. Processing and storing information about employees’ ethnic identity can itself be legally sensitive.

If the introduction of ethnicity pay gap reporting is a matter of ‘how’ rather than ‘if’, and what steps can and should be taken to unblock progress?

Editor and invited experts

James Harding
Editor and Co-founder, Tortoise

Tom Heys, Legal Analyst – Employment, Lewis Silkin
Tom is an expert in gender pay gap reporting and has more than a decade’s experience handling every aspect of employment law, and his work gives him a deep knowledge and experience of all aspects of gender pay issues. At Lewis Silkin he conducts analyses of pay data to help clients identify the causes of their pay gaps, and how they might reduce them. He has also carried out equal pay reviews to identify areas of risk for clients, and provided solutions to minimise this risk by making changes to pay systems. Tom also runs the popular website www.agediscrimination.info, and also speaks in the media about religion and belief issues in the workplace.

Steve Collinson, UK Head of People, Zurich Insurance
Steve Collinson is the Head of the UK People Team, leading the People function across Zurich in the UK. Steve has been with Zurich for over 30 years, in a career which has seen him drive and deliver major initiatives within HR, Communications, Finance and various customer operations, in both customer-facing and business-facing senior roles. Before taking up the role of Head of the UK People Team, Steve was Head of Change and Internal Communications, where he embedded a refreshed focus on engaging employees in strategy, brand, business performance and change. Steve works alongside the UK Executive team, shaping the employee value proposition and engagement initiatives to deliver Zurich’s goal of being a great place to work. He has a particular focus on building diversity and brings leadership, passion and deep business experience to his role.

Dr Halima Begum, Director, Runnymede Trust
Dr Begum joined Runnymede in 1998 as a young researcher on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, before taking up positions with Action Aid and the LSE Centre for Civil Society. She has also held senior leadership positions with a range of influential organisations, including First Secretary with Department for International Development (DFID), Director of the British Council in Asia, and Vice President of the LEGO Foundation. Dr Begum’s experience spans sectors including education, human rights, public health, the environment, and post-conflict reconstruction. Her portfolio of responsibilities has included coordinating the Sino-British government action plan to reduce food insecurity due to climate change, leading the UK effort in promoting girls’ education in Pakistan, and heading up collaborations between science and technology institutions in Britain and South East Asia. Dr Halima Begum, Director, Runnymede Trust Dr Begum joined Runnymede in 1998 as a young researcher on the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, before taking up positions with Action Aid and the LSE Centre for Civil Society. She has also held senior leadership positions with a range of influential organisations, including First Secretary with Department for International Development (DFID), Director of the British Council in Asia, and Vice President of the LEGO Foundation. Dr Begum’s experience spans sectors including education, human rights, public health, the environment, and post-conflict reconstruction. Her portfolio of responsibilities has included coordinating the Sino-British government action plan to reduce food insecurity due to climate change, leading the UK effort in promoting girls’ education in Pakistan, and heading up collaborations between science and technology institutions in Britain and South East Asia.

Doors open at 7.50am for a welcome and briefing. Come early to get settled, meet the team and chat to other members. ThinkIn starts at 8.00am.


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