A new report from the Fawcett Society shows that women from different ethnic groups face a combination of gender and race-based discrimination when it comes to pay, with mothers experiencing an even greater pay hit.
The average wage gap between women of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Mixed White and Black Caribbean heritage is respectively 28.4%, 25.9% and 25% compared to White British men, according to a new study by the Fawcett Society.
The study, based on Office for National Statistics figures, shows that, compared to white British women, the gap was 14.7%, 11.8% and 10.6% respectively. Overall, men earned more than women in most ethnicity groups in 2022, with the exception of Black Caribbean and ‘Other’ Black heritage groups. However, in these two groups, women only earned marginally more than men, and less than men in other ethnic groups.
Research has found that a significant element of the gender pay gap is likely to be the result of bias, including pay discrimination, ie being paid less than other colleagues in the same role and being passed over for promotion.
Fawcett Society’s 2022 joint report with the Runnymede Trust, Broken Ladders, found that institutional racism is common in all sectors, with 75% of women of colour having experienced racism at work, 27% having suffered racial slurs and 42% reporting being passed over for promotion despite good feedback (compared to 27% for white women).
The Society also highlights an ethnicity motherhood penalty and says mothers of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage saw a 13% pay gap and a 17-percentage point difference in employment rate compared to women of the same ethnicity without children. This group are also least likely to receive supplementary maternity pay and paid leave, due to a greater chance of being in insecure work contracts.
Another issue is early years access: 90% of White British parents take up their ‘free’ hours for 3-4-year-olds, compared to three quarters of Black parents and two thirds of parents of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage.
Flexible working was another issue. Over double the proportion of mothers of Black African heritage compared to white mothers reported that they had no access to flexible work, and Black and minoritised ethnicity workers are more likely to consider leaving their jobs due to lack of flexibility than white workers (32% compared to 21%).
The Fawcett Society is calling for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, in addition to the mandatory publication of action plans and fines for those who fail to make progress within a given timeframe, to shine a spotlight on inequality. It says monitoring and incentivising organisations to address their pay gaps on the basis of both gender and ethnicity are vital. A recent survey of Black women shows 88.7% were in favour of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, with 86% agreeing that they would be more inclined to work for an employer who published their ethnicity pay data.
Other recommendations include the implementation of effective anti-racism action plans, with multiple reporting routes, greater transparency around progression and training for line managers, a ban to salary history questions, a ‘right to know’ what a comparison colleague is paid for equal work and an advertising duty to make flexible work the default in all roles for everyone. According to the Work Foundation, women from Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds are between 4.8 and 9.3 percentage points more likely than white women to experience severely insecure work (30.3%, 34.7% and 34.8% respectively compared with 25.5% for white women).