THE ETHNICITY PAY GAP

Ah, not too long after we covered the gender pay gap in edition one of the Coven magazine, we’re back talking about pay gaps again. This time around, we’re delving into the ethnicity pay gap. 

Just last week, August 13 marked Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Equal pay day marks the average of how many extra days into the new year that women would have to work in order to earn as much as men did the previous year. Equal Pay Day for Native American women lands on 1 October, while for Latinx women, it falls on 29 October.

Pretty shocking, isn’t it? Of course, this prompted us to take a closer look at the state of the ethnicity pay gap in the US and closer to home in the UK. 

In recent months, the equality faced by ethnic minorities has become clearer than ever. So much so, that we can no longer turn a blind eye to the hardships both men and women face just because of the colour of their skin.

In the US, Black Americans are dying at higher rates than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts, while Black women are more likely to lose their job as a result of COVID-19 than white men. The pay gap is a reflection of how racism and economic inequality go hand in hand, often feeding into one another. 

In the UK, despite reports finding that Black African, Caribbean or Black British ethnic groups earned an average of 5 to 10 per cent less than their white British counterparts between 2012 and 2018, nothing has been put in place to overcome it, two years on. The same reports found that employees from the Bangladeshi ethnic group earned 20 per cent less than white British employees. 

The analysis has, of course, highlighted the importance of looking at each group separately, rather than treating ethnic minorities as a single cohort. The BAME umbrella term has no place here.

BUT WHAT’S BEING DONE TO OVERCOME IT?

In the UK, The Conservative Party pledged in its 2017 election manifesto that large employers would be required to publish information on their ethnicity pay gap, as they do with the gender pay gap. Three years on, the government has failed to introduce any proposals. Instead, it’s now down to the House of Lords to propose changes through a bill which is still making its way through parliament, albeit very slowly. 

When the report was released in 2018, Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane offered further insight. While the statistics show the persistent gap has narrowed less over the past quarter-century than the gender pay gap, Mr Haldane claims “the ethnicity pay gap problem in the UK is every bit as acute as the gender pay gap problem.”  

As he offered further analysis, Mr Haldane explained that “adjusting the raw data for the various characteristics help explain a large part of the pay gap.” He added. “it does not mean that part of the gap is justified.” 

He went on to explain. “For example, consistent and large education and skills differences between cohorts could themselves be taken as evidence of a policy failure. So too might a preponderance of certain [worker] types in certain industries or occupations.” Before adding. “In other cases, the choice of an occupation or sector may be a personal decision, reflecting lifestyle and values, and less obviously a market failure or policy concern.”

While of course, there is likely some truth to what he’s saying, we’ve heard these cop-outs when it comes to both the ethnicity pay gap and the gender pay gap for too many years. Rather than employers, changemakers and us as individuals burying their our in the sand, it’s about time we woke up to the realities of systemic racism. 

After a petition to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting gained over 130,000 signatures, the government responded in July. You can sign the petition and read their full response here. There’s power in your voice, so use it when it matters most. There’s work to be done!

Originally published on The Coven

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