Progression for all – Black disabled workers can’t be left behind

Back to all Motions

2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
7 July 2023

Conference notes that despite the significant numbers of Black workers in the frontline work force, they are disproportionately underrepresented in managerial and senior levels within their departments and tend to be concentrated in the lower levels.

Some commentators point to the ways in which institutional racism continues to play a key role in Black workers’ experiences in the organisation, which means they are often overlooked for development opportunities.

In terms of career progression, evidence points to continual barriers for Black workers to progress to middle and senior management roles within their teams or organisations. This particularly impacts those on fixed-term contracts, causing them to be overlooked and leading to discrimination as a significant number of Black workers are on fixed term contracts.

Every disabled Black worker should have equal opportunities for professional growth and advancement, regardless of their background or employment status within their work place.

Conference acknowledges that it is our duty and responsibility to address these inequalities and promote inclusivity, diversity, and equality in all aspects within the workplace. We must encourage employers to recognise the immense value and unique perspectives that Black disabled workers bring to their organisation, and to foster their growth and provide equitable opportunities at work. This is crucial to creating a truly diverse and inclusive environment

Conference believes that we need to work with employers to affirm their commitment to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace that values the contributions of all its workers and actively works towards the progression and advancement of Black disabled workers, including those on fixed-term contracts.

We need to take an important step towards a more just and inclusive future for our Black disabled members.

Conference notes that UNISON has produced a useful toolkit as part of the Year of Black Workers. This includes negotiating race equality guides on fair recruitment and selection, redundancy and bullying and harassment

Conference calls on National Disabled Members Committee to work with regions and branches and other appropriate parts of the union:

1) To encourage employers to sign up to a comprehensive approach to addressing the barriers to progression for Black disabled workers by:

a)Conducting a comprehensive review of existing policies and practices related to recruitment, hiring, performance evaluation, and career development of Black disabled workers, with a particular focus on identifying and seeking to eliminate any discriminatory practices or biases.

b)Evaluating fixed-term contracts to ensure fair and equitable treatment, with specific attention given to the representation and career advancement of Black disabled workers in these contract types

c)Committing to actively combating any barriers and unconscious biases that hinder the progression of Black disabled workers including those on fixed-term contracts.

d)Implementing targeted measures, such as anti-bias training, mentoring programmes and leadership development initiatives, to support and empower Black disabled workers in their career progression.

e)Regularly monitoring and reporting diversity and equality indicators, including representation, retention, and promotion rates of Black disabled workers, to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

f)Adopting clear and transparent communication channels that should be established to ensure that all workers, especially Black disabled workers, are aware of available opportunities for progression, including promotions, internal job postings, and skill development programs.

g)Actively seeking out external partnerships and collaborations to promote career advancement opportunities for Black disabled workers, including participating in diversity job fairs, mentoring programs, interview coaching and professional networks.

h)Reporting their disability and ethnicity pay gaps and taking steps to ensuring fair recruitment.

i)Allocating necessary resources to support this work and reviewing and reporting annually to ensure accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement.

2. To circulate UNISON’s Year of Black Workers negotiating race equality guides to seek to get these issues on the branch bargaining agenda.