Mercer signs up to promote racial equality at work

The global professional services firm has adopted Business in the Community’s (BITC) Race at Work Charter as part of its commitment to racial equality.

Multi-racial team problem solving together
Mercer has pledged to improve the outcomes for its Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and potential recruits by signing up to BITC’s Race at Work Charter.Mercer joins around 400 other companies and organisations, including inclusion and diversity award winners like Accenture, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, Vodaphone, HSBC and Natwest, who have all pledged their commitment through the Race at Work Charter to tackling racial inequalities in the workplace.The BITC's Race at Work Charter builds on research from the 2017 McGregor-Smith Review, Race in the Workplace. It revealed that people from BAME backgrounds are still underemployed, underpromoted and under-represented at senior levels.Baroness McGregor-Smith’s final report estimated that alongside progress in other areas, the potential benefit to the UK economy from full representation of BAME individuals across the labour market through improved participation and progression could be £24 billion a year, or 1.3% of GDP.

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BITC's Race at Work Charter

By signing up to the Race at Work Charter, companies like Mercer, which has 25,000 employees worldwide, are committing to improving outcomes of BAME employees in the workplace by tackling the barriers to recruitment and progression.The Race at Work Charter consists of five key principles that all signatories must abide by including:
  1. appointing an Executive Sponsor for race
  2. capturing data and publicising progress
  3. ensuring zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
  4. making equality in the workplace the responsibility of all leaders and managers
  5. taking action that supports ethnic minority career progression. 
The pandemic has made the case for action even more urgent. Data shows people how from minority groups are hardest hit by the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.New research into workplace happiness  an indicator of engagement reveals an emerging ethnicity gap. Data from WorkL shows women who are Black are the least likely to feel empowered at work, while men who are Black are the least happy at work.Mercer's announcement comes ahead of the Change the Race Ratio campaign, which will officially launch at the end of October. The campaign is spearheaded by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in conjunction with such companies as Aviva, Brunswick, Deloitte and Microsoft.

Raising public awareness and supporting progression

Commenting on the decision to publically declare their support for the development and progression of all Mercer's employees by signing up to BITC's Race at Work Charter, Sylvia Pozezanac, Mercer’s UK CEO, said that Mercer understands and recognises the importance of a diverse workforce and inclusive culture.“We are dedicated to ensuring all our employees are supported equally and all are offered every opportunity to excel in their career. We are proud to show our commitment to supporting the development and progression of our racial and ethnically diverse employees and increasing public awareness of these barriers by signing the Race at Work Charter.“Mercer is committed to creating a culture of belonging where all colleagues can bring their whole self to work, feel valued, supported and thrive. Through the Business in the Community’s Race at Work Charter and numerous other initiatives, we are reinforcing our commitments and setting targets to keep ourselves accountable.”

Breaking down barriers to inclusion 

Sandra Kerr CBE, Race Equality Director, Business in the Community, also commented. She welcomed Mercer’s action, saying, “We would like to thank Mercer for reinforcing their commitment to being an inclusive and responsible employer.“By signing up to the charter they are taking action to show that they aspire to have one of the most inclusive workplaces in the country.“Together we can break down barriers in the workplace, raise the aspirations and achievements of talented individuals, and deliver an enormous boost to the long-term economic position of the UK."

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