Yesterday, Monday 20th September 2021, was the Parliamentary debate on mandatory reporting of the Ethnicity Pay Gap. Many of you will know that I have been campaigning about this issue for over 3.5 years. The #EthnicityPayGap campaign called for the mandatory reporting of the Ethnicity Pay Gap and for organisations to work towards closing the gap as the gap discriminates against Black, Asian and other Ethnicity Minorities.
As the founder of the #EthnicityPayGap campaign, I felt it was very important for me to listen to the debate so I could understand what developments were being planned to eradicated the Ethnicity Pay Gap. Imagine my surprise when the first thing I saw was a half empty chamber. I discussed my concerns with HR Magazine and I was informed, that this was not the only equalities debate that has had a half empty chamber.
As the proceedings started I was pleased that the leader of the debate was highlighting why it was important to deal with the issue of mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting. A Scottish member of the house put his case forward and we was very clear that the Conservative government should “deliver what they had promised”. Baroness McGregor’s Race in The Workplace was quoted many times, and it was noted that in the report that dealing with the EthnicityPayGap was a business imperative and had an economic benefit to the UK.
I was very pleased to note the the Scottish government are already dealing with the Ethnicity Pay Gap, they are in fact taking positive action. The Scottish government did not believe that the challenges that were ahead would prohibit them from taking action, however, there were a few comments made by others stating how challenging dealing with the Ethnicity Pay Gap would be, for example, GDPR, the lack of consent in identifying ethnicity, lack of skills in an organisation to do the reporting. I and many others know that this type of comment is not helpful to ensure mandatory reporting is done as a matter of urgency, it will only increase delay in action. One member commented that just because it is difficult it doesn’t mean that it should not be done, I for one totally agree.
When the reply from the conservative government was commenced, I some how felt that the concerns of those who signed the petition would be addressed. I did not expect an agreement to move the process forward to make the Ethnicity Pay Gap mandatory but at the very least, I expected to hear that there was a process being drawn up to present at the next debate with a view to agreeing away forward. All I heard was excuse after excuse, as to why it is difficult to make Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting mandatory. They have had two years since the consultation to at least draft something however nothing came forth. The government spokesman commented about how they considered the CRED report to be a robust document that gave them confidence in knowing that things are not that bad. They even went as far as saying the CRED report made them feel confident that the Ethnicity Pay Gap was not discriminatory. An MP noted that the Ethnicity Pay Gap does not sit in isolation, which I fully agree with. If there is an Ethnicity Pay Gap in an organisation you can bet their will be issues around discrimination. This is true of the Gender Pay Gap, discrimination against women is the general cause of the Gender Pay Gap which is still present to this day.
We heard that many organisations and unions are keen for the Ethnicity Pay Gap to be mandatory. However, no mention of the #EthnicityPayGap campaign was made. Had the government made any effort to make contact with us, they would be under no allusion that Ethnicity Pay Gap mandatory reporting must be done as soon as possible.
I conclude by saying, how disappointed I was with this debate, I think it did a dis-service to the 130,000 who signed the petition. All the discussion about levelling up without any action is futile. It is clear to me that there is no intention from the Conservative government to make this an urgent matter. More work was done on finding out how complex the issue seemed to them, rather than finding a solution to the complexities.
A month ago I wrote an article informing you about this debate, I said then, the devil is in the detail and we must be vigilant. #EthnicityPayGap campaign will continue fighting for mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting. We will work with our supporters to make sure that the government enacts Ethnicity Pay Gap mandatory reporting into law.
If you want to join the campaign click on the website for more information https://www.ethnicitypaygapcampaign.com