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MSPs call for action to tackle 'institutional racism' in public sector

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MSPs call for action to tackle 'institutional racism' in public sector

Public bodies should be compelled to publish employee ethnicity pay data to address “institutional racism” in Scotland, the Equalities and Human Rights Committee has recommended.

The call follows an inquiry into in-work poverty among minority ethnic communities, with MSPs also calling for public authorities to produce action plans to reduce the ethnicity pay gap in their organisations.

The committee warned of a lack of progress in addressing disproportionately high unemployment, as well as levels of in-work poverty, for people from minority ethnic communities.

It found that recruitment, retention and progression of minority ethnic groups in the workplace had regressed over the last two decades and that there was a resistance on the part of employers to acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and its effects.

The inquiry focused on employers covered by the Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010, which includes large employers like local authorities, health boards as well as other public bodies.

Committee convener Ruth Maguire said: “It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that we regularly have to revisit this issue, and it’s little wonder that during our inquiry we heard many witnesses and representatives of black and minority ethnic communities refer to ‘consultation fatigue’.

“From the evidence we heard, there is a sense that many employers prefer to look outwards rather than inwards, as though the issue lies with the minority ethnic communities, when the reality is that the issue lies with the public authorities themselves. It is evident that a key factor within this is the failure of the leaders of public authorities to acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and, in so doing, failing to act to deliver a culture shift within their organisations.

“The committee is unanimously of the view that, despite all the mechanisms at the disposal of public authorities, including their equality duties and responsibilities, the ethnicity employment gap remains unacceptable and much more needs to be done to reduce the ethnicity pay gap, so we see more minority ethnic people in senior positions.”

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