I make something of a prediction. One that is obviously true, also one that everyone is going to ignore:
EMPLOYERS AND THE ETHNIC PAY GAP
Sir, Further to your report “Employers must reveal ethnic pay gap of staff” (Oct 12), Sir John Parker’s independent review into the ethnic diversity of UK boards found that just 1 per cent of the directors of our top companies are black Britons. The leadership of our professions and government looks little better. Not only are we ignoring the potential of many of our people, the face that we show the world is lamentably redolent of a bygone era for which many of our hoped-for post-Brexit markets in Asia, Africa and the Americas feel no nostalgia.
The government’s proposal for ethnic pay reporting stands a good chance of illuminating this waste of talent and of nudging organisations, both private and public, in the right direction. But it is vital that such reporting is mandatory, otherwise the prime minister’s words will amount to nothing more than a pointless wish list. Worse, it would be a travesty if companies that voluntarily published their data were to find themselves pilloried while other, less scrupulous organisations skulked in the shadows.
Transparency works, but only if everyone is required to be equally open.
Chairman, Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2006–12
Sir, Theresa May’s idea that all employers should publish their ethnic pay gap is going to be expensive and misleading. Expensive because such statistics cost to collect and collate, misleading because the age structure of the population differs by formally defined race. From the 2011 census, the whole population median age was 39, that of the white population 41, Asian, black and other, 30, 30 and 29 respectively, and mixed 18. Pay rises with age, as promotions to better-paid positions are earned through experience.
Populations with higher median ages have higher median wages therefore. No one will pay attention to this simple truth when the figures are announced — thus misleading us all. Given the age structure of the varied populations, ethnic minorities should have lower median pay than whites. This won’t be the reaction to the finding of an ethnic pay gap, though, will it?
Senior fellow, Adam Smith Institute
And a decade really is quite a long time in a career and pay structure, isn’t it?