Brexit and austerity are contributing to the ethnicity pay gap, experts have warned. These comments came from Simon Woolley, chairman of the government’s Race Disparity Advisory Group – during a London Assembly economy committee meeting this month.
The meeting looked at the ethnicity pay gap in the Capital. In 2017, for every £1 white British Londoners were paid per hour, Londoners from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic (BAME) communities received 78p.
This number increased to 84p for Asian Londoners, and fell to 74p, 77p and 63p for Black, mixed race, and other ethnic minority Londoners respectively. Mr Woolley spoke out about how he thinks Brexit and austerity have impacted on people from ethnic minorities getting jobs, saying: “There seems to be a climate of ‘it’s OK to be racist’ and that transfers to people not getting jobs.”
Mr Woolley also raised concerns that people from ethnic minorities were failing to get promoted to senior positions.
A study of FTSE 100 boards by businessman John Parker revealed only 8% of FTSE 100 directors are from a minority ethnic backgrounds, and 53 of the firms surveyed did not have a single non-white board member.
Mr Woolley said: “Black people can be in a job for years and then someone comes in from outside with less experience and gets a higher position than them.
“Those from minority backgrounds are still being prejudiced when they apply for work and we have seen from experience that applications from people with foreign names go in the bin.”
Speaking about why firms in London needed to close the ethnicity pay gap, Mr Woolley added: “If you are bold enough to take the risk and make a change you will be a beacon to the rest of the country and beyond.”
Jennifer Crook, head of diversity and inclusion at the House of Commons, also raised concerns that Brexit is having an impact on the ethnicity pay gap, and said that since 2016 the bullying and harassment of BAME people in the workforce has gone up by 23%.
She said she thought this was because the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
Main image George Hoden (Creative Commons).