Race at Work champion named in Queen’s birthday honours list

Sandra Kerr CBE, race equality director at Business in the Community (BITC), the Prince’s responsible business network, has been named as a Commander of the British Empire in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday honours list for services to equality and diversity. This honour is the latest mark of recognition for Sandra’s tireless commitment to addressing racial inequality in the workplace in the UK.

Sandra Kerr CBE, race equality director at Business in the Community, said:

“This award is part of a growing momentum to tackle the issue of racial inequality in the workplace.  In 2019 many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees are still under-represented, underpaid and underemployed and structural barriers to recruitment, pay and progression remain. Business in the Community has worked hard over the past decade to help bring employers to a tipping point where they are ready to examine the root causes of this inequality and take necessary action.

“Through our launch of the Race at Work charter in 2018 in collaboration with government, more and more employers are now ready to do what’s needed to become inclusive businesses.”

Catherine Sermon, campaign director at Business in the Community, said:

“Sandra’s groundbreaking work to remove the barriers to racial equality in the workplace has forever changed the business landscape in the UK. Her role as a driving force for the Race at Work charter means that more than 160 employers now have a workable framework to make their businesses fairer, more diverse and inclusive.

“Sandra has a passion to make the UK workforce more diverse and through her leadership and skill, she can turn what seems like an intractable issue into something that can be dealt with practically, and in such a way that benefits the business as well as the people within an organisation.

The Race at Work Charter is designed to foster a public commitment to improving outcomes of BAME employees in the workplace. It consists of five principles to ensure organisations address the barriers to BAME recruitment and progression. Organisations that sign up to the charter are publicly committing to:

  • Appointing an Executive Sponsor for race
  • Capturing data and publicising progress
  • Ensuring zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
  • Making equality in the workplace the responsibility of all leaders and managers
  • Taking action that supports ethnic minority career progression

The 2018 Race at Work Scorecard report by BITC showed that there is still a need for concerted and consistent action from employers across the UK to improve outcomes for BAME employees. The report showed:

  • There has been an increase in the number of workers from BAME background who report that they have witnessed or experienced racist harassment or bullying from customers or service users
  • Despite being ambitious, over half of BAME employees still believe they will have to leave their current organisation to progress their career
  • The proportion of managers who report that they have a performance objective to promote equality at work has fallen from 41% in 2015 to 32% in 2018
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