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16 October 2020

New data reveals persisting ethnic pay gap

2 mins

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has published new data regarding the ethnic pay gap that persists between white British employees and most minority ethnic groups in England and Wales. The report uses data captured in 2019, comparing the average pay of minority ethnic groups with the average pay of white British employees. 

Whilst the new report does state that the gap is at its smallest since 2012, the data portrays a significant disparity between the average pay of white British employees and most other minority ethnic groups in 2019. The report reveals that this gap is the largest in London at 23.8%.

The pay gap does not measure the pay disparity between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds with the same jobs but compares the overall average pay of ethnic groups collectively. The pay gap shown may indicate that fewer individuals from certain minority ethnic backgrounds are obtaining higher-paying roles in comparison with white British employees. This may be a result of a range of socio-economic factors that affect different ethnic groups to different extents. 

One contributing factor to the pay gap may be discriminatory employment practises, where employers hold conscious or unconscious biases towards individuals of certain minority ethnic groups which lead to them not being hired or not being promoted to higher salaried roles. 

It is a positive step to see that the data does portray the ethnic pay gap as shrinking but clearly not quickly enough. The data also shows that the pay gap is larger for those aged over 30 than for those aged 16 to 29 years.   This may signify improvement as the gap is closing for younger and newer workforce generations. As long as there is a significant ethnic pay gap we should continue to investigate why the gap exists and seek to eliminate discriminatory working practices which may hinder equal opportunity for individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds. 

The data also reveals that individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds are likely to have different experiences in regards to work and pay. When addressing workplace discrimination, the challenges faced by individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds should be acknowledged as unique from one another.

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