Study highlights career impact of bias against Black and South Asian women

A new report highlights the career penalty that Black and South Asian women face when it comes to finding a job and progressing up the career ladder.

BAME

 

It takes Black and South Asian women on average at least two months longer than their white colleagues to secure their first job after leaving education, according to new research.

The report, An equal path to career progression: an employer’s guide to uplifting Black and South Asian women in the workplace, by Totaljobs and The Diversity Trust found that after leaving education, it took Black women, on average, 5.1 months to secure their first role, and South Asian women 4.9 months. This is in comparison to 3.4 months for white men and 2.8 months for white women.

The research found higher levels of confidence and optimism among Black and South Asian women on leaving education. Before stepping into the world of work, 66% of Black women and 62% of South Asian women believed they could achieve anything in their future career; compared to just 38% of white women and 46% of white men.

However, further into their careers those levels slip back a little, while those for white women increase by 5% and by 7% for white men.

Despite high levels of confidence, and the fact that three-fifths (59%) of Black and South Asian women believe their employer supports their ambitions, two thirds of these women at managerial level believe that their ethnicity and/or gender has impacted their progression into a position of leadership. The report also found that 30% of Black and South Asian women at managerial level felt they had to work harder to reach their position than their colleagues and a fifth feel pressure to act as a role model.

Two thirds of Black and South Asian women (70% of Black women, 63% of South Asian women) felt the need to “code-switch” at work, i.e feeling the need to change the language they use, appearance, tone of voice, name and mannerisms.

In addition, four fifths of Black and South Asian women (79%) say they have faced discrimination in the workplace, with less than a fifth of these women (17%) reporting it.

The research found that many Black and South Asian women felt unable to report incidents of discrimination because they didn’t feel comfortable in doing so (29%), had a lack of confidence in a resolution (25%), felt they would be penalised themselves for reporting it (13%) or did not believe the business would take the report seriously (16%).

Sixty two per cent of Black and South Asian women say that their wellbeing has suffered at work as a result. Of those who have struggled with their wellbeing at work, three in ten (29%) Black and South Asian women say have received good levels of support from their employer (defined as paid time off, access to a counsellor, reduced workload or other related actions) and have felt comfortable reaching out (31%). However, one in eight (13%) say they have reached out for support but have not received it.

Over a third (35%) of Black women and 34% of South Asian women are part of an employee-led network; but only 12% of these are funded by their employer. An additional 12% are not endorsed by their organisation and are part of an external network. Over half (55%) believe such groups can help to make the workplace more inclusive.



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