Theresa May has unveiled a series of measures aimed at tackling ethnic inequality in the workplace, and bids to explore whether it should be mandatory for companies to report on ethnicity pay

The Prime Minister has launched the proposal in response to findings in the Race Disparity Audit, highlighting significant gaps between both pay and progression of Black and Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) individuals compared with white counterparts.

It uncovered evidence that Asian, black and other ethnic groups were likely to be disproportionately on a lower income, with just 1% of non-white police officers occupying senior roles. Within NHS England, it found that 18% of white job applicants shortlisted got the job, compared with 11% of ethnic minorities.

The government will run a consultation until January 2019, as very few firms are voluntarily publishing information on ethnic pay. Public services, such as the NHS, armed forces, police and schools are expected to be told to shape up and submit plans on how they will diversify their leadership teams.

Developed with Business in the Community, Mrs May has unveiled a new Race at Work Charter which is expected to hold firms to steps and changes to be made in both recruitment and progression of ethnic minority employees. Signatories to the charter include NHS England, the Civil Service, KPMG, RBS, Saatchi & Saatchi and Standard Life Aberdeen.

Lloyds Banking Group, which also pledged its signature, says it is going one step further and will be the first FTSE 100 company to set a goal of increasing ethnic minority representation in its senior positions.

It has also been welcomed by The Equality and Human Rights Commission, who believe it could highlight further inequalities in the workplace.

Speaking upon the launch of the charter, Mrs May bemoaned the “brick wall” faced by ethnic minorities when it comes to career progression and that her government is acting on recommendations of an independent review of the treatment of, and outcomes for, BAME individuals in the criminal justice system.

She said: “Our focus is now on making sure the UK’s organisations, boardrooms and senior management teams are truly reflective of the workplaces they manage, and the measures we are taking today will help employers identify the actions needed to create a fairer and more diverse workforce.”

Today’s announcement comes in the week where Prospect, a trade union representing more than 140,000 members, revealed nearly half of members surveyed had experienced overt racist behaviour at work.

Of the 500 members questioned, 51% said they had experience of a white colleague being promoted ahead of them despite having a similar level of experience to them.

It prompted calls from Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary, for greater clarity on the pay gap and for employers to “wake up.”

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “These survey findings are extremely disturbing and it is unacceptable that our members are still dealing with these attitudes. Prospect is committed to helping members deal with these experiences.

“Trade union membership is one of the strongest ways to stand up to racism. But, the onus shouldn’t be on BAME workers to tackle this alone.

"Employers must wake up and tackle this issue directly and take bold moves such as carrying out internal diversity audits and publishing their data on the race pay gap, as they have done with the gender pay gap.”