Ethnicity Data Collection

Many employers find the prospect of collecting ethnicity data on their workforce a daunting task. Often individuals are uncomfortable providing such data as they harbour concerns around why the data is being collected and what it is going to be used for. Employers worry that simply asking for the data will be perceived to be discriminatory in some way and then there are risks that staff may make assumptions about a colleague’s ethnicity through personal bias. Adding to the problem is that ethnicity data collection it is not always a subject that lends itself to asking straightforward questions, given the range of different ethnic groups that exist.

The gathering of data should therefore be done in a structured and considered way. The government has recently launched a consultation process which it hopes will lead to the publication of a set of “Standards for ethnicity data”. This will initially be limited to how ethnicity data is used in the public sector but the consultation is open to anyone.

If IR35 and Gender Pay Gap Reporting are anything to go by, where the public sector leads, the private sector is expected to follow and consequently it is probably a good idea for all employers to voice any strong opinions that they have on the subject while they have the chance. It is also conceivable that the government will in time look to gather information in connection to other protected characteristics and therefore this could be a model followed for future diversity statistics.

As they say, you can’t really complain if you don’t take part in the debate.


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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