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Wednesday 31 March 2021

“Progress has been made but there is significant work still to be done”– FDA responds to racial disparities report

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Responding to the publication of the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, FDA Equality Officer Victoria Jones said there was still much to be done to tackle racial discrimination in the workplace:

“Today’s report points to progress that has been made to eradicate racism across our society – but the problem hasn’t been solved and the recommendations outline that there is significant work still to be done. Within the civil service, investment in training and development opportunities has improved the numbers at the top, but there are representation gaps at all grades. We also know that the ethnicity pay gap is significant and urgent action needs to be taken to remove pay disparity.”

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman emphasised this point in an interview with Times Radio’s Jon Pienaar, where he argued that the focus needed to move away from terminology and on to what the data shows, “what are the actual outcomes?”

Penman pointed out that “lots of really good work” had been done in the civil service to make progress on tackling racial discrimination, but “we are not there yet”. He quoted the example of the Fast Stream, where applicants from Oxbridge have a 10% chance of success, but for applicants from an ethnic minority background, this is only 2%.

He also criticised the government for abolishing unconscious bias training for civil servants without proposing an alternative, and stressed the need to look at social and societal factors that impact on appointment decisions: “What are the unconscious factors that influence those decisions?”

Jones adds that, in 2021, “FDA members are still coming to their union for support to tackle race discrimination at work.”

“We will always be there to support individuals who are treated unfairly, but we’re taking action as a collective too. We’re demanding improvements to the civil service inclusion strategy to ensure that those with protected characteristics are at the heart of the work employers do to eliminate discrimination. We’ll also continue to support branches and sections to conduct race equality audits and lobby locally for improvements.” 

Members can read more about our work in this area here.

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