In a speech to mark 30 years since Lord Scarman’s report into the Brixton riots, Nick Clegg said progress had been made on the legal rights, political representation and public sector employment of black people since the 1981 disturbances, but “grave inequalities” remain in the private sector.
He drew a parallel with the world of football, where a racial “ceiling” allows black players to become stars on the pitch but very few to make it through into management or administration.
“In football, fans adore their heroes for their talent and character, whether they are black or white, and when Sepp Blatter dares trivialise racism on the pitch, his comments are rightly met with public outcry,” said Mr Clegg.
“But how many black managers are there in the Premier League? Zero,” he added.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that the “next frontier for race equality” is opening up economic opportunities to ethnic minorities.
He added that the state has “come a long way” in ending discrimination and it was now up to businesses and the professions to promote talented people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“Racism must be met with a steel fist,” Mr Clegg stressed.