Leading women’s rights and gender equality campaigning charity the Fawcett Society has today published new analysis of the gender pay gap by ethnicity, charting progress over more than 25 years. The analysis reveals real inequalities, with some minority ethnic groups making great strides while pay for others lags far behind.
Fawcett has also calculated the gap within ethnic groups as well as the gap between minority ethnic women and White British men to reveal a truer picture of gender inequality.
This data is not routinely collected and published by the Office for National Statistics and instead has to be calculated using the Labour Force Survey.
The report reveals:
- Black African women – have seen virtually no progress since the 1990s in closing the gender pay gap with White British men, with a full-time pay gap of 21.4% in the 1990s and 19.6% today. When part-time workers are included this figure rises to 24%.
- Pakistani and Bangladeshi women – experience the largest aggregate (i.e. including full-time and part-time workers) gender pay gap at 26.2%.
- Indian women – experience the biggest pay gap with men in their ethnic group at 16.1%.
- White British women – have a larger pay gap than Black Caribbean women, Indian women or those who identify as ‘White Other’.
- Women who identify as ‘White Other’ – are the only group who have seen their pay gap widen since the 1990s from 3.5% to 14% today. However, this is largely because the composition of this group has changed over time and is today largely comprised of Central and Eastern European migrant women, many of whom are in low paid work.
Commenting, Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said:
“This analysis reveals a complex picture of gender pay gap inequality. Black African women have been largely left behind, and in terms of closing the pay gap, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are today only where White British women were in the 1990s.”
“For these groups this is a story of low labour market participation and low pay when they are in work together with high levels of unpaid caring work.”
The report also reveals some women experiencing real progress:
- Black Caribbean women – in full-time work have overtaken Black Caribbean men so that they now have a reverse pay gap of -8.8%. They also fare better than White British women when compared with White British men (a 5.5% vs 13.9% pay gap). They are more likely to be in the labour market (63% compared to 54% of White British women), are older and so have more experience of the workplace, and also more likely to be working full-time. Black Caribbean mothers tend to return to work while their children are very young. However, at 10% their unemployment rate is still twice that of White British women at 5%. Black Caribbean men experience the highest unemployment rate of 16%, are under-represented in better paid professions or senior positions and over-represented in routine occupations.
- Chinese women – have reversed their pay gap since the 1990s. Those in full-time work now earn more per hour than White British men (a reverse gap of -5.6%), but the gap between Chinese men and women has widened from 4.6% in 2000s, to 11.6% in 2010s.
- Indian women – have seen the gender pay gap with White British Men narrow from 26% in the 1990s to 6.3% in 2010s for those working full-time and reduce by more than half over that period when including part-time workers (from 27% to 12%). Yet those not in work are still significantly more likely than White British women to be doing unpaid caring work.
- White Irish women – have seen the most progress since the 1990s, overtaking White Irish men and White British men and now have a sizeable -17.5% full-time pay gap. But this is largely due to generational factors as they are more likely to be older, working full-time or in senior or managerial roles.
Sam Smethers adds:
“For women in some ethnic groups a combination of higher education, concentration in better paid professions and more women working full-time has seen their gender pay gap narrow or even reverse when compared with White British men. However, when compared with men of their own ethnicity the pay gap has either widened over time (Chinese women) or narrowed at a much slower rate (Indian women), indicating that they are still experiencing gender inequality.
“The exception to this is Black Caribbean men who are faring considerably worse in the labour market both in terms of pay and participation than Black Caribbean women. However, Black Caribbean women still experience discrimination.
“We have to address pay inequality for all, and look behind the headline figures to get a true picture of what is going on. We also have to understand and address the combined impact of race and gender inequality. As a minimum the ONS should routinely collect and publish this data.”
Gender Pay Gap by Ethnicity in Britain calls for 5 key actions:
Collect the data – the gender pay gap by ethnicity is not routinely measured. The ONS should calculate and release these figures on a regular basis alongside the regular ASHE pay gap data.
Increase pay for the lowest paid – many of those women experiencing the largest ethic gender pay gaps are working in some of the lowest paid jobs. The National Living Wage should be set at the Real Living Wage which in turn should replace the National Minimum Wage as the legal minimum rate of pay in the UK.
Address the unequal impact of caring roles – this is a significant contributing factor explaining the gender pay gap, regardless of ethnicity. But women in some minority ethnic groups are significantly more likely to do unpaid care work, keeping them out of the labour market.
Tackle multiple discrimination – Section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 has not been commenced. So it is not possible to bring a discrimination claim on the basis of a woman’s true identity, for example as a Black woman, rather than as a Black person or a woman. This has to change.
Ensure progression for a diversity of women – getting more women to the top is key for closing the gender pay gap. The lack of minority ethnic women in managerial or leadership roles is another factor which needs to be addressed. It will also improve organisational performance and the quality of decision-making.