Ethnic minority workers are paid 84% of what their white counterparts receive

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Jan 7, 2022

Ethnic minority workers are paid 84% of what their white counterparts receive

New research highlights the extent of the ethnic pay gaps, and shines a light on the mental health impact

In research from non-profit networking organisation People Like Us and Censuswide, findings revealed that workers from Black, Asian, mixed-race, and minority ethnic backgrounds are being paid, on average, 84% of what their white counterparts earn.

Two-thirds of respondents said that they had reason to believe that a white colleague doing the same job as them was on a higher salary, and a quarter said they suspected the disparity in pay was up to £5,000, meaning – on a calculation based on an estimated average working life duration of 38 years – they could be losing out on £255,000.

This is by far not the first time such a disparity has been highlighted. In the latest report on the UK’s ethnicity pay gap from the ONS in 2019, findings showed how it differs across regions, with a 23.8% difference in London, and 1.4% in Wales. But while there is an awareness of this disparity, 56% of respondents to the People Like Us study said that their previous or current workplace had revealed that an ethnic pay gap exists, a third of workers said that, though their employer spoke publicly about the pay gap, nothing changed.

What can I do if I’m experiencing race discrimination?

Citizen’s advice recommends considering the following options if you are experiencing race discrimination at work:

  • Talking to the person or organisation that discriminated against you.
  • Using a grievance procedure or making a claim to an employment tribunal if it is an employment problem.
  • Publicising your case through the media.
  • Taking legal action through the courts.
  • Giving details of the problem to an advice agency who may be able to refer it to the Equality and Human Rights Commission if you believe the problem is widespread.

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But the effects of the ethnic pay gap runs deeper than just finances, People Like Us highlighted how imposter syndrome is a common side-effect, with a third of racially diverse respondents revealing that they have struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion, despite thinking that they deserved one. Additionally, how they were less likely to ask for a pay rise when other colleagues were – for fear it would be too competitive. What’s more, 50% of respondents said that these scenarios led them to experience anxiety or depression.

“It's simple. Nobody should earn less because of the colour of their skin, their sexual preference, gender or anything else that isn't related to their performance,” said Sheeraz Gulsher, co-founder of People Like Us. “Salary and job progression should be based on merit, but the data here makes it patently clear that currently, they aren't.

"Organisations need to get better at identifying pay gaps and progression bias within their companies. because without understanding the issue, you can't fix it.”

So, for now, what can be done?

"We’re asking every HR professional, payroll professional, CEO and business leader to do this exercise,” Sheeraz says. “And don't just focus on race or gender, look at all cross-sections in your company including race, sexuality, disability and gender.”

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