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UK top listed firms targeted in biggest ethnicity pay gap push

UK top listed firms targeted in biggest ethnicity pay gap push

The pressure will build on companies gathering together shareholders at their annual general meetings (AGMs) this year.
The UK’s biggest listed companies are set to be pressed on how they are tackling ethnicity pay gaps in the largest shareholder push to-date.

The pressure will build on companies gathering together shareholders at their annual general meetings (AGMs) this year.

ShareAction, a responsible investment charity representing shareholders, told the PA news agency it plans to quiz some 25 businesses on their ethnicity pay gap policies at their AGMs.

It will be most amount of questions ever put forward to companies, ShareAction said, with the likes of JD Wetherspoon, Domino’s, and Primark owner Associated British Foods coming under scrutiny.

Companies will be pushed to publicise details of the gap in pay between white and non-white workers, which unlike gender pay gap reporting for employers with more than 250 staff, is currently voluntary.

"It is well established that there is a systemic problem in income inequality between minority workers and the wider workforce in many of the UKs companies"

Pay gaps show the difference in the average take-home pay between one group compared to another, and do not mean that people are paid different amounts for doing the same job.

Compiling reports can help tackle racial inequality in the workplace and improve inclusion by holding employers to account, campaigners argue.

Kohinoor Choudhury, senior project officer for ShareAction’s “Good Works” campaign, told PA: “It is well established that there is a systemic problem in income inequality between minority workers and the wider workforce in many of the UK’s companies.

“Ethnic minority workers are far more likely to be in the lowest paid jobs, living in poverty and earning less than white British employees.

“Asking companies at their AGMs to collect and publish data on their ethnicity pay gap should deliver the transparency that will promote action and an end to the iniquity of differential pay by race that companies have turned a blind eye to for far too long.”

Just 3% of the UK workforce is employed by companies that publish their ethnicity pay gap, according to Business In The Community (BITC), an organisation backed by the King.

Last month, BITC wrote letters to the Prime Minister and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, asking them to work together to make the reporting mandatory.

Meanwhile, some companies which already publicise the data, such as London Stock Exchange Group and Aviva, will be pushed to go further and break down ethnicity pay gaps by ethnicity, ShareAction said.

It follows a campaign launched by the charity after the murder of George Floyd in the US, sparking the international Black Lives Matter movement.

It initially targeted lower wage sectors in light of the cost of living crisis, but has expanded this year to include a broader range of employees.

Most companies targeted will be holding their AGMs next month.
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