Former UK prime minister David Cameron has called on the government to make it mandatory for firms to disclose their ethnicity pay gaps.
“If you don’t measure something, you don’t know how you’re doing, and if you don’t know how you’re doing, it’s very difficult to make it better and to fix the problem,” Cameron said during an appearance at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference on Wednesday.
“It is time to say to firms this should be a mandatory requirement, you should report on what you pay.”
Cameron, who left office in 2016, introduced rules making large companies disclose their gender pay gaps annually during his time as prime minister. Since then, the pay gap between men and women has narrowed from 18.2% to 15.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), although the gap was already declining and has in fact widened for part-time workers.
Data published by the ONS last month showed the UK’s ethnicity pay gap had fallen to 2.3%, its lowest level since 2012. However, the average masks big disparities between different races. Pakistanis and Bangladeshi workers earn about 15% less on average than white British employees, for example.
“It’s not a simple binary issue,” Cameron said at the CBI. “We can see from the figures we already know that British Chinese people for instance are paid more than white people. People from Pakistani or Afro-Caribbean communities are often paid less.
“Rather like the gender pay gap, it’s not so much people being paid different amounts for the same job, it’s the fact that people aren’t getting promoted, people aren’t getting the same opportunities.
“It goes to this whole issue of how do we make opportunity more equal all the way through the country. You can’t do that unless you’re measuring where it isn’t equal.”
Cameron backed targets for ethnic diversity on company boards and said accusations of positive discrimination were “nonsense.”
WATCH: Calls for transparency over ethnicity pay gap