Majority of employees are happy to share ethnicity data, poll finds

Experts say the ‘desire for change’ is clear and call on employers to make ethnicity pay gap reporting a priority

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Almost all employees are happy to share their ethnicity data with their company, research has found, despite there being no mandate to collect this information.

A poll of 1,500 employees, conducted by OnePoll for INvolve at the beginning of May, found 95 per cent were willing to disclose their ethnicity to their company.

The research, which also polled 500 business decision-makers, also found almost half (47 per cent) believed their organisation had an ethnicity pay gap, rising to 52 per cent in the IT industry and 64 per cent in the accounting and finance sector.

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Earlier this year, the government confirmed it did not intend to introduce any mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting rules, arguing collecting the data would be too administratively challenging and would create too much of an additional burden on employers.

However, Sandra Kerr, race director at Business in the Community, said the findings of the INvolve poll showed that even though ethnicity pay gap reporting was not mandatory, the “desire for it from employees is clear”.

“Employers may have an ethnicity pay gap at their business, but with most employees willing to share their ethnicity and be counted, business leaders now have a responsibility to collect and report that data,” she said.

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“The wish for businesses to prioritise reporting their ethnicity pay gap data is there, employers now need to make that happen,” she Kerr.

Suki Sandhu, founder and CEO of INvolve, added that it was encouraging to see how many employees were willing to share the data needed to report on ethnicity pay gaps, demonstrating an appetite for change and transparency across businesses.

“The existence of the ethnicity pay gap is a fundamental sign that not enough has been done to improve ethnically diverse representation across senior leadership,” he said. “While there is currently no legal mandate, businesses taking DE&I seriously should be stepping up and reporting their ethnicity pay gap”, he said.

Charles Cotton, the CIPD’s senior performance and reward adviser, urged all large employers to ask their employees to disclose their ethnicity so that they can ensure that they were rewarding people fairly, adding that HR teams should explain why this information is being requested and how it will be used.

“Employers that are successful in persuading individuals to give this information will be in a better position to assess the impact of their HR practice,” he said.

The research by INvolve was released alongside its annual Empower Role Model Lists, which celebrate business people playing a central role in breaking down barriers at work for Black people and other ethnic minorities.