Workers in an NHS hospital

The pay gap is a symptom of a wider culture in which black and ethnic minority workers are undervalued and underpromoted.

There is an ethnicity pay gap in the UK. That much we already know from years of research from organisations like the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and beyond that, many of us can see and feel it in our lonely experiences at workplaces.

In an announcement this week, Theresa May said that many ethnic minorities “feel like they are hitting a brick wall when it comes to career progression” and for once I actually agree with her. Following a Race Disparity Audit in 2017, May’s solution to this problem is to launch a consultation on whether mandatory reporting of salaries based on race will help address disparities between pay and career prospects of minorities. It seems long overdue, pulling policies from Labour, which last year said it would introduce an equal pay audit requirement for large companies if they came into power. If mandatory reporting comes into play, it might actually force companies to take action to address an issue that isn’t going away by itself.

Anecdotally, while we seem to be entering the era of frequent, visible success stories that include ethnic minorities, I still see many of my peers struggling in the workplace. This isn’t just an issue of educational attainment: in 2016, it was reported that black graduates earned an average 23 per cent less than their white counterparts, with a 10 per cent deficit overall from all ethnic minority backgrounds. We are actively held back by the fact there are so few people of colour in positions above us, by the fact that we are less likely to come from the type of families where nepotism is going to bolster our employment opportunities, and by the thorny prick of racism.

I will never forget the story of Dawn Butler, the UK’s third ever black woman MP, being mistaken for a cleaner in the House of Commons. On entering a private members-only lift in the early Noughties, another MP said to her, “This lift really isn’t for cleaners”; one of “so many incidents” of racism she had suffered in parliament. Many people still cannot fathom that ethnic minorities can be in positions of power, and continually fail to open the gates to put us there. And on the flipside, in the journalism industry, in most newsrooms I can say with some confidence that I am more likely to find my black community in low-waged cleaners and service workers that in anyone above junior positions.

In comparison to the outrage and uproar over the gender pay gap figures, the reaction to the ethnic minority pay gap over the years has been muted at best. It was ITN who led the bandwagon to a less than enthusiastic response earlier this year by voluntarily releasing stats which showed that they paid their non-white staff 20.8 per cent less than their white colleagues, a …read more

Source:: New Statesman

      

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Reporting the BME pay gap is the first step in righting old workplace wrongs

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