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Mind the gap: why are ethnic minority staff being paid a third less?

Category: BAME, Pay Gap


An ethnicity pay audit of organizations in the Greater London authority group found that ethnic workers faced pay gaps of up to 37% compared to their white colleagues. Meanwhile, studies suggest people with equivalent qualification but with African and Asian surnames have to send in twice as many CVs just to get an interview.

The more data you read the worse the situation seems. Women from almost every minority ethnic group experience a pay gap with White British men says the Fawcett Society. When you look at full-time workers the space between salaries for similar work runs from -5.6% for Chinese women in Great Britain to 19.6% for Black African women. Pay by gender within the same ethnic group can also vary widely.

There’s also a gender dimension. Women experience a gender pay gap in comparison to men of the same ethnicity. This is largest for Indian women at 16.1%. On the other hand, Black Caribbean women’s earnings buck the trend, showing a reversed gender pay gap of -8.8%.

These inequalities spurred the #EthnicityPayGap movement that hopes to bring change. Dianne Greyson, Director of Equilibrium Mediation Consulting, spearheaded the push after hearing the same concerns again and again from other professional black women. Dianne believes that before you can deal with the (also-important) gender pay gap, we need to address the ethnicity pay gap.  

Ethnicity pay gap

 The Government has recognised this issue, creating an All Party Parliamentary Group to look at ways to combat the issue. We agree with MP Dawn Butler, “if something is on the government agenda it shows a positive output and recognition will naturally become a focal point for business.”

There’s more than just discussion pushing the agenda though. London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is making recommendations to government for legislation to make ethnicity pay audits a legal requirement. He has also implemented steps to try to close the gap including anonymised recruitment, unconscious bias training and creating a diversity and inclusion management board for his offices.

Awareness is key and an ongoing social media campaign by Dianne Greyson is growing. She is passionate about reaching young people from ethnic backgrounds. She wants to educate youngsters to be mindful of this situation so they can negotiate for themselves.

What can you do?

  • Educate yourself - the Equality and Human Rights commission published a report on the ethnicity pay gap in 2018. The report lays out effective ways for employers to measure pay and progression minority groups. It also highlights best practice from employers who are working for more equality for ethnic minorities and disabled people.
  • Highlight BAME role models in your organization. This can raise aspirations, increase diversity and promote better understanding of multi-cultural workplaces.
  • Show your support and raise awareness by using the #EthnicityPayGap hashtag on social media.

We believe that everyone deserves a fair deal in the workplace. And that employers need to know their rights and responsibilities. Find out more about the employers we work with here.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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