In this week’s guest column, Director of Equilibrium Mediation Consulting and the founder of the Ethnicity Pay Gap campaign and Ethnicity Pay Gap Day, Dianne Greyson, highlights why it’s time for businesses and the UK Government to take real action to close the ethnicity pay gap by paying Black, Asian and ethnic minority workers fairly.
Many people ask what prompted me to create the #EthnicityPayGap campaign. It was actually an article that I had read in the Guardian back in 2018, highlighting that there was a £3.2 billion ethnicity pay gap in the UK. This made me so angry, but also determined to do something about this injustice.
Prior to reading that article, I had already started the conversation on the topic by researching this issue, and asking questions such as:
- Do people realise that the ethnicity pay gap exists?
- Why are companies allowing this to happen?
- Is this yet another discriminatory act making it more difficult for Black people to achieve financial security?
Through my ongoing research it became clear that Black people were not the only workers affected by the ethnicity pay gap because Asian and other ethnic minority communities were impacted by this too.
ADDRESSING THE GENDER PAY GAP
Although I didn’t have a clear vision of how to tackle this issue back then, I knew something needed to be done. I continued to write articles and have conversations with those who would listen. It was around this time that I also embarked on creating the #EthnicityPayGap T-shirt and promoting it. Many people started to support the campaign and showed solidarity by purchasing the T-shirt.
However, I soon realised that I was a lone voice; moreover, I was a lone Black women with no real backing. It became obvious that I needed support to help raise more awareness about the campaign. So, the first organisation I approached was the Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for women’s rights in the UK, because they were already doing good work around the gender pay gap.
Luckily, the Fawcett Society agreed to support the campaign. More recently, other organisations, such as the Equality Trust, The Voice, African, Caribbean and Asian Lawyers for Justice, Spktral, Operation Black Vote, London Chambers of Commerce and Industry, ShareAction, ADPAC and many others have joined our fight for fair pay.
ETHNICITY PAY GAP INJUSTICE
Over the last few years, I have engaged with organisations, giving presentations, appearing on panels and supporting companies that needed help to address the ethnicity pay gap in their organisations. In 2020, I wrote to MP Kemi Badenoch asking her to encourage her party to address the ethnicity pay gap. Although I eventually got a reply in 2021, there appeared to be no real interest to deal with this issue. I also wrote an open letter to senior officials and MPs to further highlight the injustice of the ethnicity pay gap.
Despite a hearing in parliament, thanks to a petition signed by over 1,000,000 people to make Ethnicity Pay Gap reporting mandatory, the government failed to take real action to enforce it, offering up instead poor excuses about the perceived challenges, which I believe could have been overcome.
2021 also saw the launch of Ethnicity Pay Gap Day, which I felt was vital to raise the issue of the ethnicity pay gap and to get engagement from organisations and communities. I was very proud to have been invited to appear on Sky News to launch Ethnicity Pay Gap Day. This interview solidified the importance of Ethnicity Pay Gap Day and put the #EthnicityPayGap campaign on the radar of people who were not aware that it existed.
ETHNICITY PAY GAP IMPACT ON BLACK WOMEN
Since then, I have continued to share my thoughts on this topic on social media, updating everyone on the debates in parliament and the House of Lords, where I was given special recognition by Lord Boating. In a bid to push for more recognition for the campaign, I embarked on further research with Susan Baker to focus on the impact of the ethnicity pay gap on Black women because no research had ever been done in this area. It was important for us to give Black women a voice, as it felt as if our voices were being ignored by those who talk about the gender pay gap, but never give a second thought to Black women and women from other ethnic groups who are penalised twice because of the gender pay gap and the ethnicity pay gap.
The research, launched on Ethnicity Pay Gap Day last year, highlighted that 52% of Black women are paid less than their White peers, losing out by as much as £10,000 per year due to wage inequality.
ETHNICITY PAY GAP DAY
As we move full steam ahead into 2023 we have to ask, what has changed? Not much, as far as I can see. I believe that the size of the ethnicity pay gap which stood at £3.2 billion in 2018, is likely to be worse. A survey carried out by People Like Us last year found that around 26% of Black and ethnic minority professionals believe the ethnicity pay gap will only widen.
The current backdrop in which the ethnicity pay gap exists shows that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting Black people and those from other ethnic minority communities the hardest. In fact, a recent report in the Independent revealed that at least half of UK’s Black staff are affected by the ethnicity pay gap, and minority ethnic workers are disproportionately paid below the real living wage. Black households are more than twice as likely to be in deep poverty compared to their White peers; with Bangladeshi families three times more likely to be struggling.
The UK Government cannot permit Black, Asian and other ethnic groups to continue to be paid unfairly. Organisations should not turn a blind eye either. It really is time to act now! So I will continue to campaign until justice is done. Join us on Ethnicity Pay Gap Day on 8th January 2023. Click here to find out more.