12 October, 2017

Executive Briefing: The race disparity audit

This week, the Race Disparity Audit was launched after months of diligence and effort from the Cabinet Office Race Disparity Unit.

The audit amalgamates over 300 existing information sources and has the potential to become a tangible barometer for sustainable steps forward in transferring ambition and transparency into actual tools for measuring diversity progress in the Public Sector.

Over the last 24 hours, however, I have spoken to over 30 people who found some way of criticising it as not doing enough or not suggesting palpable pathways to improvement. To each of these criticisms, I have responded similarly, “It is a start, it is comprehensive and it has created political capital, meaning not acting on the findings are detrimental to self-interest – which is brilliant!”

The power of this audit comes from the fact that it crushes the argument that racial equality in the workplace can be increased through social mobility interventions. It clearly displays via educational attainment vs employment statistics that organisational prejudices are still stopping minority progression in organisations. It also confirms that we require a much more informed, supply-led talent debate.

What the audit will also encourage the leaders of our organisations to do is confront their trust deficit mea cupla. Against the information now at hand, it is almost impossible to deny that trust isn’t broken and that institutional prejudice doesn’t exist in the Public Sector. And furthermore, that the current leadership culture isn’t a predominant reason for the results and disparity.

The classic intervention of ‘change or explain’ means that we should be able to now move away from the traditional objections to diversification, “the talent isn’t out there”, “we didn’t get the right choice from our head-hunters” or my personal bête noire, “great candidate but perhaps a bit too risky, culturally.

This audit has now forced the zeitgeist to change and this is what gives me the most enthusiasm. I believe that this time around, choices and changes will actually be made because the world has moved on and all our institutions are merely catching up or fighting to stay relevant. Poor trust in your purpose and stance on equality will be equated with poor trust in you.

When you consider that over the space of 30 years 60% of the original FTSE 100 has now closed, there is a clear underpinned requirement for institutions and leaders alike to become more diversity savvy to rebuild trust with customers and employees before they become even further out of touch with the very people they are trying to serve.

In the age of information accessibility, we are seeing more and more institutions crumble overnight because of poor and deprioritised stances around authentic diversity. Look at Uber for example. Traditionally, a group of young entrepreneurs getting criticism around bad company culture would have made front-page news but little else. This new age dictates that not only has the organisation had to make their CEO step down now, which we’ve seen many times before, but the company’s unassailable market position been detrimentally damaged, their territories or operation have been slashed and their global brand has been permanently tainted. In this case, bad diversity has turned into a multi-million value loss.

For the past ten years, we have been holding up the mirror to the private and public sector’s leadership diversity to try and help combat these issues of a lack of information and data. This is predominantly done through our original research reports; The FTSE100 Leadership 10,000 & Index, The Public Sector Leadership 5,000 and the new Colour of Power UK- that we produce in partnership with Operation Black Vote.

These reports are designed to assess sector-specific trends in diversity and analyse what’s failing, what’s working and then create tangible recommendations for how companies can sustainably improve their diversity initiatives; a direct correlation to the aims and objectives of the Race Disparity Audit for the population of Britain.

The commonality between our purpose and that of the audit mean that for the first time, there is a metaphorical pincer movement from society and industry in tackling statistically verified discrimination. There is no way that this can be ignored and I am very excited to see what happens next.

Key findings from The Race Disparity Audit


  • The UK is more ethnically diverse but figures haven’t been updated since 2011 but 1 in every 13 people in England and Wales aged 3 and over had a main language other than English.
  • The majority of people in each ethnic group also felt a sense of belonging to their local neighbourhood with more than three-quarters of people from each ethnic group felt that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together
  • Black people felt appreciably more able to influence decisions that affect their local area (such as contacting their councillor) than White people

Poverty and living standards

  • Asian and Black households and those in the Other ethnic group were more likely to be poor and were the most likely to be in persistent poverty
  • Around 1 in 4 children in households headed by people from an Asian background or those in the Other ethnic group were in persistent poverty compared to 1 in 10 white british households.
  • The ethnic minority population is more likely to live in areas of deprivation, especially Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi people


  • Pupils from Chinese and Indian backgrounds showed high attainment and progress throughout their school careers and high rates of entry to university
  • White British pupils and those from a Mixed background also made less progress than average
  • Low educational attainment and progress is closely associated with economic disadvantage. There is a sizeable gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and those from better off households among White British, White Irish and Mixed pupils
  • White British and White Irish pupils who were not eligible for free school meals were around twice as likely to attain A*- C in maths and English GCSEs as those who were eligible
  • White pupils from state schools had the lowest university entry rate of any ethnic group in 2016.


  • around 1 in 10 adults from a Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Mixed background were unemployed compared with 1 in 25 White British people
  • Pakistani or Bangladeshi employees received the lowest average hourly pay, which was £4.39 per hour less in the last three months of 2016 than Indian employees who received the highest average hourly pay


  • Homeownership, access to social housing, affordability and the quality of housing varies very widely between ethnic groups with White British, Indian, Pakistani, and Mixed White and Asian origin most likely to access.
  • As a group, ethnic minority households are also much more likely to rent privately than White British households and to spend a higher proportion of their incomes on rent, regardless of whether they rent from a social or private landlord
  • Overcrowding affects ethnic minority households disproportionately, and London had one of the highest rates of overcrowding of all regions of England
  • There has been an increase in the number of ethnic minority households accepted by local authorities as statutorily homeless over the past two decades, even though acceptances have fallen greatly.


  • There are lower levels of confidence in the police among Black people, and especially among younger Black adults
  • Black men are also almost three and a half times more likely to be arrested than White men

Criminal Justice

  • Of all defendants, including juveniles, who were remanded at Crown Court for indictable offences, the highest proportion was Black defendants, and particularly for Black males.
  • For all offenders (including juveniles), the average custodial sentence length (ACSL) for indictable offences has increased for all ethnic groups since 2009
  • White offenders consistently received the shortest ACSL. In 2016, the ACSL for White offenders was 18 months whereas Black and Asian offenders received the longest ACSL at 24 and 25 months respectively.
  • Court judges are disproportionately White, though the imbalance is less marked among tribunal judges
  • The vast majority of police officers are from the White group and this has not changed over the past decade


  • More than half of adults in all ethnic groups other than the Chinese group were overweight and this was particularly so among the White and Black ethnic groups, affecting 2 out of 3 White and Black adults
  • Most Asian groups express lower levels of satisfaction and less positive experiences of NHS General Practice services than other ethnic groups
  • Black women were the most likely to have experienced a common mental disorder such as anxiety or depression in the last week, and Black men were the most likely to have experienced a psychotic disorder in the past year
  • Of those receiving psychological therapies, White adults experienced better outcomes than those in other ethnic groups
  • Black adults were more likely than adults in other ethnic groups to have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The public-sector workforce

  • The public-sector workforce is a major employer, but ethnic minority employees are concentrated in the lower grades or ranks, and among younger employees
  • 18% of the non-medical NHS workforce were from an ethnic minority group (excluding White minorities). Only 7% of very senior managers and 11% of senior managers were from an ethnic minority group
  • Also, the executive boards of many NHS trusts do not reflect the diversity of the NHS workforce: 93% of NHS board members in England are White

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