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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Employers ‘routinely discriminate against women from ethnic minorities’


A group of MPs and peers has urged the government to take steps to improve equality in employment procedures after it was revealed that many employers routinely discriminate against women from ethnic minorities.

A report produced by the Runnymede Trust for the all-party parliamentary group on race and community found that females belonging to ethnic minorities were twice as likely not to be in work as white women of equivalent age and experience.
It indicated that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women were particularly affected, with 20.5% being unemployed. Some 17.7% of black women were also without jobs compared to only 6.8% of white women.
Because these worklessness rates had remained stagnant for the last three decades, however, many women were taking action to combat perceived discrimination themselves.
For instance, in order to increase their chances of getting a job, some said that they had removed the hijabs that they wore for religious reasons, while others adapted their names in order to sound more “English”.
“Discrimination was found to be present at every stage of the recruitment process – when assessing applications, during interviews, at recruitment agencies and also in the workplace itself,” the report said.
Varied and complex barriers
Hijab-wearing Muslim women reported that they had experienced discrimination, while women from all three ethnic groups were asked questions about their intentions regarding marriage and children.
“This was often tied to assumptions based on ethnicity – for example, it was assumed that Muslim women would want to stop work after having children,” the report explained. Other issues acting as barriers to employment included language, cultural attitudes towards women, qualifications and a lack of “social capital”.
The report concluded: “We believe the evidence shows that there are varied and complex barriers facing Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women which are different from those facing white women or ethnic minority men.”
David Lammy, the APPG’s chairman said it was clear that women in these groups were facing a “greater challenge” in entering the labour market than other sections of the population.
But he added: “Despite the overwhelming evidence, the unnaturally high unemployment rates of women in black and minority ethnic communities has been given fleeting attention.”
This situation had “massive implications for families and society as a whole”, however, Lammy said, particularly given the large numbers of black families in which the mother was the sole breadwinner and the high poverty rates among Pakistani and Bangladeshi families.
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett

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