Race inequality in the workforce – the state of play in the coronavirus economy

November 11, 2020

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The impact of Covid-19 on the labour market has affected specific groups of workers more than others, including those with an ethnic minority background.

Issues of race inequality have received much overdue attention this year, following the death of George Floyd and subsequent widening of engagement with the increasingly global #BlackLivesMatter movement.

In this new report, we explore evidence that shows the specific impact of the pandemic on Black and Minority Ethnic workers, demonstrating the ways in which they face a range of additional risks both within the workplace, and in terms of experiencing poor quality of work and loss of employment during the economic downturn.

The report makes 11 recommendations for government and employers to ensure that job quality is protected for all and that groups at particular risk are safeguarded.  This includes calls for the government to: take action to curb the one-sided flexibility resulting from precarious employment contracts; implement ethnicity pay gap reporting as a matter of urgency; and to implement a ‘health at work’ review to ensure that adequate resources and infrastructure are in place to help employers fulfil their duty of care towards their employees’ mental and physical health at work.

Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive at Carnegie UK Trust said:

“It is evident that the impact of the pandemic has been felt particularly acutely by our Black and ethnic minority communities.  As well as increasing our understanding of the health implications for these communities, we must also give due attention to the issues of race inequality that have been highlighted in the labour market context. 

Work has the potential to enhance our wellbeing, and we must retain a focus on quality of work as well as working to boost jobs and encourage economic recovery.  In this period of great change and challenge we have an opportunity to rebuild a labour market that offers good quality jobs to all without discrimination.”          

Lord Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, welcomed the report:

“The report’s conclusions and recommendations point to the need for a wider response that will the address systemic race inequality which the pandemic has again exposed. Confronting this challenge is a call to action that we must not miss.

Covid-19 is not a racist disease, but it has shone yet another light on areas in our society that are deeply racialised, including issues of low pay, barriers to progression in the labour market, and unequal voice and representation in the workplace.”

The short report complements Carnegie UK’s Trust Good Work for Wellbeing in the Coronavirus Economy report which was launched last month.  It seeks to understand how we can ensure the best possible jobs recovery and achieve good work for all in the coronavirus economy.

You can read Race Inequality in the Workforce: Analysing the state of play in the coronavirus economy here.

You can read Good Work for Wellbeing in the Coronavirus Economy here.