07 March 2017
The Fawcett Society has called for dual discrimination laws to be put into effect after research revealed BAME women are falling behind when it comes to gender pay gap progress.
Black African women are stuck in the 1990s when it comes to the gender pay gap, the analysis of Labour Force Survey statistics revealed, with a full-time pay gap of 21.4% compared with white men 20 years ago experiencing a negligible fall to 19.6% today. When part-time workers are included in the analysis, the figure rises to 24%.
Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are experiencing an even higher pay gap at 26.2% (including both full and part-time workers), leading Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society to comment: “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,” she explained.
The research showed a very complex picture, with some ethnic groups doing better than others.
A good example of this is Black Caribbean women, who are paid 8.8% more than their male counterparts and even have a narrower pay gap with White Men than White Women (5.5% compared with 13.9%).
Sam Smethers explained: “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.
“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.”
In order to achieve this, the Fawcett Society argued that pay should be increased for the lowest paid, equality data should be more routinely collected and multiple discrimination should be tackled.
The organisation noted that section 14 of the Equality Act 2010, which would make it possible to bring a discrimination claim on the basis of more than one protected characteristic (for instance being both “black” and “female”) to tribunal, has not been commenced and recommended it is put into force.
The Institute of Employment Rights covers these issues in the proposals of our Manifesto for Labour Law – 25 recommendations for reform, the principles of which have been adopted by the Labour Party.
We call for tribunal fees to be dropped and for tribunals to be provided with power to make general recommendations to companies around discrimination, rather than only those that pertain to the claimant. We also call for pay inequality to be tackled through a stronger framework of collective bargaining, with trade unions and employers negotiating minimum pay and conditions at both sectoral and enterprise levels, with such an agreement applying to all people in employment within the industry or company in question. We also call for equality data to be collected and reported by each company to aid monitoring, and for equality representatives and forums to be established at each enterprise to effectively monitor discrimination and unequal treatment.
The Fawcett Society called for the government to address the impact of unpaid care work, which often falls to women and keeps them out of the labour market. The Institute of Employment Rights tackles this issue by recommending that “career gaps” of up to five years are supported for those with children, and that flexible working is promoted and supported to help others with caring responsibilities to stay in work.
Lastly, the Fawcett Society would like to see better progression for women of all ethnicities, such as more minority ethnic women progressing into managerial or leadership roles.
The Manifesto for Labour Law recommends that greater legal scope for positive action should be permitted, thereby helping employers to recruit workers with protected characteristics in order to diversify their workforce.