Race and ethnicity

When there is a need to refer to a person’s race or ethnicity, best practice is to refer to specific ethnic groups separately.

Pakistani and Chinese

Note the use of initial capitals for ethnic group names and remember that White British is itself an ethnic group.

If it is not possible to use separate groups then broad ethnic group categories may be used.

Asian/Asian British

Ethnic minorities

Use terms like “ethnic minority”, “ethnic minorities”, “ethnic minority population(s)” etc, instead of acronyms such as BME and BAME which are frequently used to refer to all except the White ethnic group. This is to avoid highlighting particular groups above others.

The Ethnic Minority (GB) group includes all ethnic groups other than White British.

Where the White British group is not available, as in Northern Ireland or UK data, the Ethnic Minority (UK) group may be used instead, which includes all ethnic groups other than White. Remember that the White group also includes some minority White ethnic groups.

Ethnic groups vary, so if you do combine different ethnic groups into a single minority group, make sure it is clear who you are talking about and that it is not misleading:

  • always make sure you explain what you mean by the term “ethnic minority” or “ethnic minorities”
  • use the definition that is most appropriate to your context or data

Further details on how to present ethnic group data can be found in ‘Ethnic Group Statistics: a guide for the collection and classification of ethnicity data’ (ONS 2011).