Image 2021 02 22 T16 27 30


Whitepaper 'BAME Representation in the Workplace': Driving social mobility

Rebekah Valero-Lee morson news

Image 2021 02 22 T16 27 30

BAME attrition statistics make it clear there are significant improvements to make before we can call the industry truly inclusive, particularly when considering that attrition costs an average of £30.6k per each employee lost.

BAME communities face their own unique disadvantages within society, with a higher than average chance of having experienced poverty and poorer educational outcomes. Despite more BAME people in the UK obtaining degrees, these groups are still most likely to face a job gap compared to white colleagues with the same qualifications. For example, research from the Resolution Foundation found that Black African and Bangladeshi graduates are twice as likely to work in low-paying occupations as Indian, White and Chinese university leavers.

As part of our research for our whitepaper 'BAME Representation in the Workplace', we were able to determine whether BAME employees are more likely to leave their roles due to workplace pressures than none-BAME groups, and identify which demographic is more likely to be pinpointed for promotion within a company.

Percentage who have left a role earlier than planned due to particular workplace issues/pressures:

Percentage who have left a role earlier than planned due to particular workplace issues/pressures

Black/British Caribbean


White European


Asian/British Bangladeshi


White British


Black/British African


White other


Asian/British Pakistani


White Irish


Asian other


White Gypsy/traveller


Total average
Total average

Percentage encouraged by a current or previous Line Manager to seek a promotion

BAME participants

Non BAME participants



This distinct contrast in workplace experiences amongst BAME groups compared to non-BAME groups demonstrates that professional environments could be working to manifest existing social disadvantages amongst minorities. Add to this that almost half (47%) of all respondents have never been managed by someone of BAME background, it is perhaps easier to understand why junior BAME workers are less likely to take senior positions – there simply aren’t the role models in place. These are barriers which must be broken down.

Against this backdrop, there is an opportunity to implement processes and ways of working which begin to, instead, drive real social mobility amongst this demographic. Ways of working must be implemented to attract a greater pool of candidates from different ethnic backgrounds to overcome the socio-economic employment barriers that these hard-to-reach groups face. However, this must also be complemented by activity which ensures they are presented with the same promotion opportunities as other colleagues and given such positive workplace experiences that they never feel compelled to leave their role.

We are working on setting a pioneering new standard within the industry to create a recruitment service which doesn’t just attract BAME talent, but which supports our clients in achieving optimum working standards, free of discrimination, to ensure talent is retained, nurtured and empowered to progress.

Though this whitepaper has already explored the reasons why an employee would leave a role, our research also sought to distinguish exactly what it is that drives a BAME worker towards a job role in the first place to determine when attrition is first triggered. The below figures outline these findings:

What attracts you to a role?
What makes you leave a role?

41% pay levels

42% if I was harassed/bullied

32% reputation of the organisation I’m working for

39% poor company culture

31% progression opportunities

38% if I’d reached burnout (lack of energy, passion or motivation to do the job)

29% proximity to home

38% if I experienced discrimination

26% attractiveness of the industry

30% if colleagues treated one another or were treated with a lack of respect

19% the opportunity to secure a permanent contract

29% not being made to feel included

17% training on the job

28% if I was found to be paid less than my colleagues

17% exciting elements within the role

25% if I experienced racism

“What these findings demonstrate is that while pay is the main driver for a person to join a business, when they are recruited their priorities actually change.

“Instead, they come to value different factors, such as inclusion, respect, motivation and culture. It may be instinctive to base career decisions on elements we can measure, such as income, however, what is clear is that the immeasurable aspects to a job role are much more important in the longer term.

“So, while workplaces might use pay as a tactic to attract high skilled talent, those who don’t deliver in a more emotive, personal capacity – in line with a person’s background, demographic and orientation – are at risk of high attrition levels. It is absolutely essential to create pathways for retention so that every sector works to secure its talent long term.” - Sam Price, head of client engagement the Morson Group

Of the respondents who took part in the research, 40 per cent were educated to GCSE level, with just 20 per cent possessing A-levels or a degree. While 31 per cent said they had previously considered entering a traditional, professional occupation such as HR, finance or legal, 37 per cent cited ‘being unqualified’ as a factor in holding them back in their career progression. Though this portrays a perception that some technical sectors simply welcome low skilled labour, what is especially important for BAME employees is to be presented with opportunities to continually upskill in a job role, in order to retain their talent.

ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations, states that the three ways to retain staff is to focus on ‘retraining’, following these three steps:

  1. Ensure that work is 'meaningful' and makes full use of an individual's skills, abilities and potential

  2. Keep work interesting and varied, providing training opportunities so that workers feel they are developing and improving

  3. Present openings for promotion, or risk driving away workers, especially younger demographics looking for career progression

Based on these figures and additional research, we can now provide clients and businesses with a compelling case to better engage with BAME candidates in order to drive upward social mobility for this underrepresented and often discriminated group.

However, hiring a diverse workforce is just the starting point. Instead, focus should be on creating environments where each employee can thrive, feel fulfilled and remain with the business long-term, regardless of background.

Download your copy of the full whitepaper here: