As it releases the results of a two-year investigation, which reveals for the first time the full scale of the workplace penalties faced by Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is today calling for a fundamental cultural shift in the way black and Asian women are treated at work and by public policy makers.
Moving on Up: Ethnic Minority Women at Work, the largest investigation of its kind in Great Britain, has established that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women face significantly greater penalties than white women in the workplace. Those who want to work are finding it more difficult to get jobs, progress within them and are more likely to be segregated into certain types of work, despite leaving school with the same career aspirations as white girls and similar or better qualifications than white boys.
In areas with above average numbers of black and Asian women participating in the local labour market, BME women are entirely absent from 3 out of 10 workplaces and under-represented in almost 3 out of 5 workplaces. The EOC's report suggests it's not too late to set the country on a different course. 28% of employers surveyed said they intended to introduce steps to improve the recruitment and progression of black and Asian women. However, the same percentage said they were unsure what action to take.
The EOC is today urging Britain’s employers and policy makers to catch up with the diversity of modern Britain and develop ‘cultural intelligence’ - the awareness, understanding and confidence to communicate and relate positively to people from different cultural backgrounds, to get the best from them at work and design policy that meets their needs.
The EOC warns that cultural intelligence is absolutely crucial if Britain is to avoid paying a high economic and social price. Between 2001 and 2020, ethnic minority people are expected to account for over 70% of the growth in the UK population aged 16-59. With Britain’s employers facing skills shortages, it is crucial to tap into a growing and increasingly well-qualified pool of young Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women's talent if we are to maintain economic growth.
And with access to jobs being a key ingredient of community cohesion, policy makers will fail to build stronger communities unless black and Asian women's skills and ambitions translate into better-paid jobs in a wider range of organisations.
Read the entire press release here.
By the numbers:
Breakdown of Black Caribbean women in English cities (Sources: ONS (2004) Census 2001: CD Supplement to the National report for England and Wales; GROS (2004) Scotland’s Census 2001: CD 5 Volume 1.):