Focus on Wolverhampton council’s ethnicity pay gap

Ethnic minority workers at Wolverhampton Council earn an average of 75 pence an hour less than their white counterparts, recent figures have revealed.

Wolverhampton Civic Centre
Wolverhampton Civic Centre

The council’s ethnicity pay gap report for 2021 shows the average mean hourly rate for its white employees was £16.14, compared to £15.38 for ethnic minority workers – a difference of 4.71 per cent.

In total, the local authority has 3,678 full-time equivalent employees, with 3,328 choosing to share details of their ethnicity – 90.5 per cent of the workforce.

Of these, 2,374 (64.5 per cent) were white and 954 (25.9 per cent) were from ethnic minority groups.

In a report to the council, HR business partner Baljit Basatia said: “The workforce covers a diverse range of service areas rather than a single sector.

“Grades for each role vary based on the level of responsibility, and therefore there is a wide range of salary scales to reflect this. Of the 3,328 employees who reported their ethnicity, 2,351 were female and 977 were male.

“The average mean hourly rate for white males was £16.71 and £16.22 for ethnic minority males. It was £15.86 for white females and £15.14 for ethnic minority females.”

Council equality bosses, who are due to discuss the issue next week, have already taken steps to address the divide including the establishment of four staff equality forums covering gender, maternity and paternity; race, religion and belief; disability and age and the rainbow forum; a corporate equalities steering group that meets quarterly where staff forums discuss issues with external stakeholders; the implementation of a ‘safe space’ for employees to raise issues anonymously with an independent external service and a review of the recruitment process to remove barriers and support diverse candidates to apply for vacancies.

Other steps include the development of an external career site that informs potential candidates of opportunities within the council, including benefits of working for the council, types of careers, core HR polices and case studies on diverse employees; unconscious bias training (delivered to 1,463 employees since 2017); wrap-around support for candidates who are unsuccessful at interviews, to help them with future applications (five out of 15 employees who sought support were successful in attaining new opportunities); the appointment of an equality officer to lead on race, religion and belief issues and use of inclusive language.

The reporting of ethnicity pay gap data is not a current legal requirement and many councils and employers choose not to publish the information.

The report added: “Equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything the council does and human resources will continue to work in partnership with our team to consider further future actions that could be undertaken.”

The council’s resources and equalities scrutiny panel is due to discuss the issue on Wednesday.

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