Ethnic minority workers more likely to quit over flexibility than white counterparts, research finds

Experts say firms need to constantly review and update internal policies to have a ‘truly inclusive’ workforce

Gary Burchell/Getty Images

Black and ethnic minority workers are more likely to leave their jobs because of a lack of flexibility than their white counterparts, research has found, often facing greater impact on their work from factors such as caring responsibilities.

A poll of 5,444 UK employees found that one in three (32 per cent) ethnic minority workers have left or considered leaving a job due to lack of flexibility, compared with just 21 per cent of white workers.

Research commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince’s Responsible Business Network and Ipsos UK for BITC’s Who Cares report, also found that groups including low-income workers and shift workers, were significantly more likely than to have left or considered leaving a job, or to have not applied for a promotion because of conflicting care responsibilities.


Single parents twice as likely to be unemployed than coupled parents, research finds

Progressive HR policies for forward-thinking employers

Why unconscious bias training isn’t fit for purpose


In total, four in 10 employees with care responsibilities said they had not applied for a promotion because of the challenges combining work and care, rising to 50 per cent among ethnic minority employees, and 58 per cent among women.

Charlotte Woodworth, gender equality director at BITC, said the research showed some groups were having “a significantly harder time than others” combining paid work and caring responsibilities.

She called on employers to continually review and update their internal practices, emphasising that flexibility was key, “We need to move past old-fashioned ideas about five days a week, nine-to-five in one location and support everyone to craft a better work life balance, that doesn’t see people penalised because they can’t work in a certain way,” she said.


Get more HR and employment law news like this delivered straight to your inbox every day – sign up to People Management’s PM Daily newsletter


“Employers have the power to create working cultures that support all carers regardless of race, gender or personal circumstances. Only then can we put up our hands and say that we have a truly inclusive workforce in the UK,” Woodworth added.

Sandra Kerr, race director at BITC, said looking at how caring responsibilities are impacting black, Asian, mixed race and other ethnically diverse employees shows businesses still have “a long way to go towards true equality”.

“Businesses are doing great things already but what we need to see now is more targeted action at a much bigger scale,” she said.

The research also revealed differences in how supported workers felt with childcare responsibilities based on household income.

Just half (50 per cent) of workers in households with incomes under £26,000 per year said they felt supported by employers with their childcare responsibilities, compared to 75 per cent of those earning £26,000 per year or more.