The Reality of the BAME Pay Gap in the UK

Written by Luke Kitchen
Last updated April 24, 2023

When we talk about pay gaps in the UK, we often talk about the gap between men and women. While this is indeed an important topic within pay inequality, it is not the only one. 

There remains a pay gap between the BAME community and White people across the UK. While many people may not expect this to be true, it is, unfortunately, still very much the case and should be acknowledged, discussed, and dealt with. 

In this blog, we want to talk more about this subject. We are going to discuss the current statistics surrounding the BAME pay gap in the UK, why this is still happening, and what we can do to help change things. 

Let’s get started with those all-important statistics. 

The Figures

The current mean pay gaps between White and other ethnicities are:

  • Black – 28.8%
  • Asian – 33%
  • Mixed – 10.2%

From 2019-2020, the pay gap was only calculated as a group between the BAME community as a whole and White people, and the mean figure for this was 29.3%. 

As you can see from these statistics, there is a significant gap between how White people and people of other ethnicities are paid throughout the U.K. It also shows us that there is no real sign of this slowing down just yet. The percentages have been staying pretty consistent from 2019-2021. 

These particular statistics also show that White people remain the most likely candidates to receive paid bonuses in work, topping every chart of bonus recipients across the country. When people of other ethnicities do receive bonuses, these are statistically less in value too. 

Overall, BAME people are paid and valued less in work than White people on a significant scale. 

Why is this the Case?

One of the most important things that we can do with these figures is to consider why they are occurring. Acknowledging that the situation is happening isn’t enough to stop it from happening again down the line. 

There are a few reasons why there remains a BAME pay gap in the UK, including:

  • Racism in society. Simply put, many people still hold racist opinions towards those in the BAME community and this affects country-wide decisions and policies.
  • Unconscious bias in recruitment processes. Often, those who identify as BAME do not get higher-paying jobs because they are rejected in job interviews by people who don’t think they are outwardly being racist. People may hold unconscious stereotypes and biases that impact the decisions they make on recruitment panels. This is a widespread problem that leads to BAME people staying in lower-paying careers and industries for longer. 
  • Education gaps. Many people in the BAME community get stuck in a cycle of systemic oppression. Their parents may have had lower-income jobs while they grew up due to racism, which means they may have had to live in lower socioeconomic areas and go to less privileged schools. This can then affect their ability to enter higher education and get a better job for themselves. And so, the cycle continues. Many BAME youths have a lower level of education due to systems at play that aren’t their fault. 
  • Racism in promotion boards. Even when BAME people get jobs in the industries they like, they are often held in lower-ranking jobs for longer due to racism in promotion processes. If you can’t be promoted, you can’t get paid more. 
  • Racist employers. Unfortunately, there remain racist employers across the UK who do not treat their employees fairly and they leave their jobs as a result. As well as a BAME pay gap in the UK, there is also a BAME employment gap as people from this community find it harder to get and maintain jobs. 

What Can We Do about It?

Now that we have talked about how real and significant this BAME pay gap in the UK is, we need to move on to thinking about what we can do about it. To discuss this, we want to split the topic into two sections. Firstly, what members of the BAME community who are job seekers and employees can do. Secondly, what employers and companies can do. 

For Employees:

Let’s start with BAME job seekers and employees. If you fit this description, you can combat the BAME pay gap by:

  • Only working for anti-racist, inclusive employers. Rather than accepting lower rates of pay and staying in lower ranks than you deserve, you can cast your vote for fairness by only working for people who deserve your custom. Finding an anti-racist employer who will support you can make a huge difference in your life and well-being, and it also shows others that this is possible. You can find such employers via our inclusive job board and directory of inclusive employers right here at Aspiring to Include
  • Talking openly about your pay. It is no longer an offence or problem to talk openly about what you are paid within the workplace and you cannot be punished for doing so. Try to talk to other members of staff about your pay and get the conversation rolling. If you think you find any discrepancies, talk to a manager or member of HR immediately. 
  • Share your experiences with certain employers and companies. If you have had a bad experience at work, make sure to report this to the proper authorities and also share your experiences with others. You can review employers online and talk about your experience with pay discrimination. It is key that employers are held responsible for how they behave towards the BAME community or nothing will ever change. 

For Employers:

If you are an employer, there are lots of ways in which you can tackle the BAME pay gap, including:

  • Reflect on your own EDI figures and be honest about the changes you need to make. You can’t get things right until you figure out where you are now first. For more on this, you can check out our guide on publishing EDI figures

Everyone deserves equal pay. If we all work together, we can make changes that matter. 

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Last Updated: Thursday March 16 2023
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