The ethnicity pay gap is the biggest for black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani (BBP) women over 25, while there are hopeful signs among more junior female employees, a new study suggests.
McKinsey’s Race in the UK workplace: The intersectional experience research found that when compared to white men, the wage disparity was 21%, 23% and 27% for black, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women respectively.
BBP women were also revealed to have a lower labour force participation, at 64%, 43% and 43% respectively, compared to 78% for white men and 73% for white women. However, in the past decade the number of younger BBP females aged 16-25 in the top-three highest-paying jobs has doubled.
Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle, senior expert at McKinsey and Company, said: “There are a myriad of factors that have contributed to this overall pay gap. Two of the largest contributors to this are firstly, the industries that BBP women work in which are on the whole, particularly for those in the 26 to 55-year-old category, lower skilled or lowered paid than white men. Secondly, even when BBP women work within the same industries as their white male counterparts, many are impacted by a ‘frozen middle’ effect, where they can experience a lack of career progression and at times negative workplace experiences which impacts their ability to climb the ladder within their organisations.”
To improve the outcomes for BBP workers, McKinsey suggests employers: help BBP women expand their professional networks, implementing a more transparent, equitable promotion process, ensuring professional development support addresses the specific challenges BBP women face, and creating a sense of belonging for BBP women through various initiatives.
Dixon-Fyle added: “Company benefits that would mitigate barriers to progression revolve around providing the right professional development opportunities and enhancing the employee’s sense of belonging in the workplace. The development opportunities, including leadership development or specific skills training, access to conferences, or mentorship programmes, should be equitable for all and the process of accessing those should be transparent, empowering every employee to make the most of them. This is particularly important as BBP women in management are more likely to be ‘only’s’, with further challenging to gaining sponsorship and peer support.
“Employee’s sense of belonging can be fostered through starting affinity groups, leading events tailored to the interests of the group, or offering flexibility in working arrangements, to tend to the specific needs of the given groups. For BBP women, for example, this could include flexibility around drop-off and pick-up times from school, childcare or carer support, or allowing for time to respect religious practices.”