Discrimination in career progression is a major barrier for ethnic minority employees. It is important that every employee can achieve their full potential, irrespective of their ethnicity. This report provides evidence of employee views on career progression and includes recommendations to employers. It focuses on enablers and barriers to career progression including satisfaction with career progression, the sense of belonging and the intention to leave, and beliefs about ethnicity and career progression in the workplace. 


This report is the final of a three-part series, which outlines some of the key areas that employers can act on with regard to race inclusion in the workplace.  

Key findings 

  • Fifty-four per cent of white British ethnicity respondents said their career progression has met or exceeded their expectations, but this is only the case for 49% of ethnic minority group respondents. 

  • Those whose career expectations have been met and those who feel they belong are more likely to say they intend to still be working for their organisation in the next two years. 

  • Over half of respondents agreed that: 

  • ‘Everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential at work, no matter your racial or ethnic identity or background’ (ethnic minority group: 55%; white British ethnicity: 63%). 

  • ‘If I work hard, I have as good a chance as anyone else to succeed in my organisation’ (ethnic minority group: 52%; white British ethnicity: 55%). 

  • ‘There is equal access to development and progression opportunities for everybody’ (ethnic minority group: 49%; white British ethnicity: 60%). 

  • Eleven per cent of ethnic minority group respondents feel the employee’s similarity in cultural/ethnic identity or background to the managers making the hiring decisions or to senior managers/leaders plays a part in career progression in their organisation compared with 2% and 3% respectively for white British ethnicity respondents. 

  • Around 20% of ethnic minority group respondents said that the following are important: 

    • senior leaders questioning the lack of racial diversity in senior roles 

    • firm action on discrimination 

    • ethnicity pay reporting to highlight inequalities in the organisation.  

  • Three key barriers to progression given by those whose career progression has not managed their expectations are: skills and talent being overlooked’ (38%), poor-quality line management’ (36%) and not being part of the “in group”’ (32%). 

Race inclusion report: Equality of career progression

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In this series


Race inclusion report: Talking about race at work

We look at the need to talk about race at work and the barriers and facilitators of these conversations 


Race inclusion report: Encouraging ethnicity data disclosure

We look at the importance of collecting ethnicity data to identify under-representation in the workplace 

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