Research conducted by the #EthnicityPayGap campaign has revealed that Black (of African-Caribbean or mixed heritage) women could consequently miss out on £105,000 to £350,000 of earnings across a working lifetime spanning an average of 35 years. The report is called, The Impact of the Ethnicity Pay Gap on Black Women in the UK.
The reasons for pay gap have been attributed to differing variables. In the report, the campaign maintains that wage differences based on race and gender can be complex in origin and identifies the following factors as potential critical influences:
- Household structure and health status
- Access to spheres of influence
- Opportunities for professional development
Evidence collated by the Ethnicity Pay Gap Campaign has shown the detrimental effects to the black women throughout their professional careers as well as their children. However, the study aims to investigate what previous research before it has failed to achieve. Noting that much of earlier evidence relies on statistical data that is relatively limited and omits the lived experience of black female voices.
Instead the #EthnicityPayGap campaign’s research tackles the situation more holistically. The research documents the lived experience of women who have encountered wage inequality and concludes their ethnicity to be a factor. Further investigating when and how these pay disparities took place by inviting all participants to take part in follow-up interviews.
“You don’t get a real picture of how the ethnicity pay gap affects Black women,” says founder of the campaign, Dianne Greyson. “As a Black woman myself, I felt that the gender pay gap did not highlight the double punishment Black women face.”
The study surveyed 344 women to discern their standing on pay disparity, access to professional development and promotion, health implications, seeking redress and mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting. When asked if they had ever experienced a salary disadvantage, 52.3% of respondents confirmed awareness that they were being paid less than their white counterparts and 31.4% stated that they were unsure.
Research from the London School of Economics and Political Science, The Inclusion Initiative supports that all women experience substantial differences in pay, hours and representation in top jobs in comparison to men. However ot maintain that it is Black women, regardless of whether they are born in the UK or overseas, who have the lowest probability of becoming top earners.
But the major trend shown by the study is that more often than not any opportunities to progress are not available. 127 women said that they had applied for a promotion in their current role. 84 were not successful, 12 were offered the post (but asked to take a pay cut) and 4 revealed that the position was suddenly closed when they applied.
“I didn’t get [the promotion]. Someone from HR took me to one side and said ‘they’re not going to give that job to a dread’.”
“The opportunities are not there for certain, basically, BAME individuals,” discloses another survey respondent. “You’re not in the right space to find out what’s going on or somehow you don’t know where the openings are.”
“Certain people are able to get those ‘insider whispers’. And that’s how it is.”
“I found that within those organisations it’s that hyper visibility versus invisibility. All mistakes are magnified and those opportunities to grow are kind of restricted. And then moments where you’re overachieving [it’s assumed] that’s the way you work. Success comparative to other colleagues and the team was not recognised. There was a lot more grace afforded to a lot of people failing upwards, which I was not able to access.”
Part of the detrimental effects inflicted upon these women include negative impacts to their health and wellbeing. The report mentions that “one interviewee was very clear that the stress she had endured from being marginalised and having her career opportunities repressed at work caused her to have a miscarriage.” Others shared their ordeals of anxiety and depression.
For some black women, the COVID-19 pandemic exasperated pre-existing health challenges. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) report, BME women and work, suggested, “The COVID-19 pandemic has added a more deadly aspect to this lack of workplace power and protection. BME workers have told the TUC they are frequently denied access to PPE and to appropriate risk assessments.”
The Ethnicity Pay Gap Campaign are campaigning for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for businesses and organisations.