On 14 December, the CIPD hosted a panel discussion in Westminster to mark the launch of Addressing barriers to BAME career progression to the top, new research examining black, Asian and minority ethnic representation in the workplace. 

Presided over by the CIPD’s new Policy Forum chair, former Labour MP and chair of the BEIS Select Committee, Iain Wright, the discussion included contributions from Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, Suzanne Semedo, deputy director of the Civil Service’s D&I strategy, and Dr Jill Miller, the CIPD’s diversity and inclusion policy adviser.

In her keynote speech, Baroness McGregor-Smith, who led the Government’s review of race in the workplace in 2016, warned that the face of work will be changing fundamentally over the coming years and urged senior HR professionals in the audience to be ready for it.

Jill Miller speaking at report launch

She said that BAME individuals face discrimination and bias at every stage of their career. Nearly three-in-ten of black employees say that their career progression has not met their expectations because of discrimination, according to the CIPD report.

Once again data was recognised as paramount to improving progression in the workplace for BAME individuals. Baroness McGregor-Smith called for mandatory reporting on workforce diversity to accelerate the pace of change. Dr Miller, author of the research, urged the HR community to understand what is happening in their organisations, and to pay particular attention to how intersectionality – the overlapping nature of characteristics such as gender, race and class – can affect an individual’s experience at work.

Iain Wright and Peter Cheese

Ms Semedo set out the Civil Service’s ambition to become the UK’s most inclusive employer. She highlighted the importance of creating clear lines of accountability to ensure that the Civil Service delivers on its two priorities of increasing representation and creating an inclusive culture.

The panellists agreed that the time is ripe for action. “We know how bad the data is, and we know how bad the situation is—what we need now is action and practical guidance for employers,” said Dr Miller.

Chief Executive of the CIPD, Peter Cheese, closed the event by echoing the calls for the HR community to step up and drive change in organisations, while being confident about the insight it can offer business leaders. “We need to put the human back in Human Resources, and the human back into business,” he concluded.

Read the full report.

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