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Top management lacks minority representation, says pay report

A STUDY into the gaps in pay received by different ethnic groups at Milton Keynes College has revealed representation shortcomings at the highest level of management.

The headline figures show that staff from all black, Asian and mixed backgrounds earn £0.99 for every £1.00 earned by their white colleagues and that women earn £0.91 in relation to £1.00 for men.  

However, says Milton Keynes College Group’s equality, diversity and inclusion manager Arv Kaushal, says the findings show that the issue is representation rather than how much people are being paid.

“Identifying a problem is one thing but appreciating its scale and underlying causes is quite something else,” Mr Kaushal pictured said. “The ethnicity pay gap information gives us some very clear messages, most significant of which is the absence of minority representation at the highest level of management within the organisation.  

“We are missing out on the experience and knowledge and differing approaches of people from non-white populations and that is not just an issue in terms of equality and diversity, it also limits our ability to respond to the needs of our wider community.”  

The report covers the 12 months to the end of March last year. It has been released to coincide with the legally required data around gender pay disparity. Milton Keynes College Group is one of the first further education institutions in the country to release a report on the gaps in pay for people it employs from different ethnic groups.    

The report from the college has been welcomed by Business in the Community, the foremost business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. Its race director Sandra Kerr said: “Our data shows that more and more companies like MK College are not waiting for legislation to publish their ethnicity pay gap, they are doing it themselves because they know it is the right thing to do.  

“Understanding the ethnicity pay gap in organisations ensures that action can be directed to where it is needed most. This is extremely important to ensure that we speed up the process in closing the current ethnicity pay gap in the UK.”

Mr Kaushal said: “If we do not have people in the top positions who understand the full variety of different lived experiences of the community we serve in Milton Keynes, we will not be as agile and responsive as we should be in terms of meeting their particular educational needs.  Put simply, a homogenous leadership group is not the best equipped to deal with the needs and problems of a multi-racial community.”

Work has been going on behind the scenes at the College Group, looking at everything from recruitment and interview policies to the tackling of unconscious bias.  The findings are hardly a surprise but it is important to raise awareness of the issue, Mr Kaushal said. 

“Recognising the reality of the situation gives us an incentive as an organisation to do something about it, knowing full well that when future reports come out it will be easy to judge whether progress is being made.  We are effectively giving ourselves a stick to beat us with but, with the intention that when we try to make improvements, we will be able to see whether the steps we are taking are working.

“When we look at the big issues from education funding to climate change to the cost-of-living crisis it is vital for the group to be able to understand the different ways these challenges affect people from different backgrounds.  The figures are just a snapshot, it is what they represent which really matters.”

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