To be black in the UK finds that more than two in three black professionals have experienced racial bias at work

NEW YORK, July 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Many have played down the existence of systemic racism in the UK, but black professionals who experience daily micro-aggressions and barriers to advancement in the workplace know it exists. Coqual, a global think tank, reported earlier this year that nearly half of black British professionals surveyed say race is one of the aspects of their identity that most impacts how people relate to them. see or treat them at work. Today, Coqual publishes a new report, To be black in the UK, which documents how race shapes the work experience of black people in the UK and reveals data-driven differences within the diverse black community based on gender, heritage, social class and other identities in layers. The new report offers concrete solutions for organizations to create more inclusive workplaces for everyone.

“For too long, the voices and experiences of Black professionals have been ignored. This new report sheds light on those experiences while illustrating the challenges for companies that choose to ignore the biases and barriers that Black employees face” , said Lanaya Irvin, CEO of Coqual. “Our data and insights reveal that race is a salient and critical factor and provide ways for companies to make real and lasting change that will set the course and foundation for Black professionals to thrive in the workplace.”

The new report, which used a rigorous mixed methodology including a survey of over a thousand UK university-educated professionals and in-depth conversations, focus groups and interviews, concludes that:

  • Black professionals are 81% more likely than white professionals to say their companies are “not at all” or only “slightly” fair.
  • More than half (52%) of black women and 46% of black respondents intend to stay with their company for only two years or less, compared to 34% of white professionals.
  • When it comes to their aspirations, 63% of black professionals surveyed say they are very or extremely ambitious — a higher percentage than any other racial group surveyed.

Coqual finds that black professionals in the UK face a steeper rise than their colleagues acknowledge. More than three in four (76%) black professionals surveyed say black employees need to work harder to advance, while only 30% of white professionals, 42% of Asian professionals and 52% of mixed-race professionals say the same. According to the survey, black professionals experience 13 microaggressions more frequently than their white and Asian colleagues — acts that undervalue, invalidate, and symbolize them, among other things.

“Black professionals in the UK live harsh daily realities,” said Julia Taylor Kennedy, Executive Vice President of Coqual. “While many companies are having more conversations about race in the workplace, they don’t lead to much action – which can be incredibly disheartening. In our study, we provide a framework for action.”

Harmful attitudes and encounters take many forms and manifest daily, forcing black professionals to anticipate and endure negative treatment. Coqual finds that more than two out of three (68%) Blacks and more than half (58%) of mixed-race professionals surveyed say they have experienced racial prejudice in their current or former company, compared to Whites (28%) and Asians. (50%) of professionals who say the same thing.

The experiences of black professionals in the UK are far from monolithic and business leaders need to understand the differences that exist within the UK’s diverse black community. Coqual’s survey reveals the unique experiences that black professionals have based on heritage. Nearly half of Black West Indian professionals (47%) surveyed say their organization is “not at all” or only “somewhat” fair, a higher rate than Black African professionals (35%). Black Caribbean professionals are also less likely than their Black African peers to say they can be themselves at work (40% vs. 59%).

Meanwhile, black African professionals in the UK face microaggressions that label them perpetual outsiders more frequently than black Caribbeans. Colleagues mispronounce their names and assume they grew up disadvantaged or unfamiliar with British culture. In interviews and focus groups, Coqual heard how these stereotypes serve as signals that black African professionals do not belong or should not stay in the UK.

To help companies drive lasting and meaningful change, Coqual has developed an action framework: Audit, Awaken, Act. This framework provides the steps companies can take to advance their work in the DE&I space and strengthen accountability across their ranks. The full report gives examples of companies, tips and pitfalls to avoid at each stage of the framework.

  • Audit– First, assess the current state. Business leaders need to understand the current state of black work experience and the inequities that exist in how black professionals are treated, hired, evaluated, promoted, and compensated.
  • Awake- Bring this information to the rest of the organization through carefully crafted conversations and resources for the benefit of all employees. Leaders and employees need to have open discussions and learn about the barriers that black professionals face.
  • Law- Using the knowledge and understanding developed during the auditing and awakening phases, companies must craft solutions that specifically target dismantling barriers for Black employees and establish accountability at all levels.

Methodology: Research consists of a survey; literature review; virtual discussion groups; In-Depth Insights® sessions (a proprietary web-based tool used to organize voice-assisted virtual discussion groups); and individual interviews. Through our qualitative methods, we reached over 120 black experts and professionals based in the UK or with UK racial expertise.

The survey was conducted online in March and April 2022 with 1,035 respondents (385 Black professionals, 404 White professionals, 108 Asian professionals, 107 Mixed-race professionals, and 31 professionals from other racial groups), ages 21 and older. years old and currently employed full-time in liberal professions, with at least a bachelor’s degree.

The survey was conducted by ORB International under the auspices of Coqual, a non-profit research organization. ORB International was responsible for the data collection, while Coqual carried out the analysis. In charts, percentages may not always add up to 100 due to computer rounding or accepting multiple responses from respondents.

Research partner: The Executive Leadership Council (ELC); Main Sponsor: Johnson & Johnson; Research sponsors: Bloomberg LP, Bristol Myers Squibb, Google, Moody’s Corporation, Morgan Stanley and The Walt Disney Company.

Research Advisors: Sophie Chandauka, MBE, President and Executive Founder, The Black British Business Awards and Head of Race Equity Group, the 30% Club; Sir Trevor Phillips OBE, Chairman of the Board of Green Park; and Nicholas RollockProfessor of Social and Racial Policy at King’s College London.

About Coqual: Coqual (formerly Center for Talent Innovation) is a global nonprofit think tank dedicated to helping leaders design diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces where everyone belongs. Founded in 2004, Coqual provides in-depth research, thought leadership, and actionable data-driven solutions to businesses to address biases and barriers to inclusion of underrepresented populations in the workplace. Coqual’s cutting-edge research and advisory services focus on gender, race, ethnicity, disability, veteran status and LGBTQ, and other identities, and the intersections between these groups . For more information, visit

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