The British government is considering a rule requiring companies to report pay gaps between ethnicities in their work force, a year after employers were required to report their gender pay gaps.
The prime minister’s office said Thursday that the idea is a response to a study published last year that showed significant pay disparities between ethnic minorities and their white counterparts in Britain.
“Every employee deserves the opportunity to progress and fulfill their potential in their chosen field, regardless of which background they are from, but too often ethnic minority employees feel they’re hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression,” Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement.
The Race Disparity Audit, a survey of 24,000 workers last year, found that white British adults were much more likely to be employed and to own their own homes than people from ethnic minorities.
The audit found that the unemployment rate for black, Asian and other ethnic-minority people, at 8 percent, was nearly double that of white British adults, at 4.6 percent.
“Over all, the findings will be uncomfortable,” Mrs. May said when the report was released. “But it’s right that we’ve identified them, shone a light on them and we need to confront these issues that we have identified.”
When Britain’s government started required companies with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gaps last year, it found that average pay for men was higher than that for women at the vast majority of businesses. Many hope that as the data accumulates and is publicized, businesses will be forced to do more to reduce the gap.
The government said it would invite employers to share their views on mandatory reporting on pay by ethnicity.
Sandra Kerr, the race equality director at the charity Business in the Community, said in a statement that the Race Disparity Audit “showed that all too often ethnic minority staff are still encountering significant disparities at work.”
A new government initiative, called the Race at Work Charter, would help companies to tackle the barriers to racial equality, she said.
Employers including the National Health Service in England, Standard Life Aberdeen, Norton Rose Fulbright, Saatchi & Saatchi, KPMG, RBS, WPP and Lloyd’s Banking Group have signed on to the charter, which commits them to increasing opportunities for ethnic minorities in the workplace and at senior levels.