The other pay gap, ethnicity

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Group of women of different ethnicities standing holding equal signs

Thursday’s Equal Pay Day highlights the vitally important issue of the gender pay gap between men and women. The day of the year from which women are basically working for free because of the gap. When thinking about pay gaps, this is usually the one we focus on. However, in multicultural Britain there are pay gaps resulting from ethnicity as well as gender.

An analysis done by the Office for National Statistics showed significant differences in earnings between white and minority ethnic workers in almost all British regions. London has the largest pay gap – on average ethnic minority workers earn 21.7% less than white workers.

For London an equal pay day based on ethnicity rather than gender would start even earlier, on 14 October 2019.

Graph showing that London has the largest pay gap with ethnic minority groups earning 21.7% less than White employees on average

Interestingly, whilst the overall gaps remain large, there is an improvement when looking at those aged between 16-30. For example, the gap between Bangladeshi workers and White British workers is 27.9% for those over 30, but only 3.1% for 16-30. This suggests that second and third generation minorities may be faring better than their first generation parents and grandparents. However, there is still a gap which shows that the problem has not gone away.

The gender pay gap and the ethnicity pay gap also intersect. In all but one of the ethnicities measured, ethnic minority women earn less than men of the same ethnicity. They are suffering from an ethnicity pay gap on top of a gender pay gap – a double penalty.

How is it relevant to Equal Pay in supermarkets?

Equal pay within supermarkets may well help bridge the ethnicity gap. Analysis based on the Annual Population Survey suggests that a large number of ethnic minorities work in services such as supermarkets. If we can improve pay for those working in supermarkets, we may help to reduce the ethnicity pay gap as well as the gender pay gap.

What can you do?

Equal Pay Day is 14th November 2019 and on this day you can show your support for Equal pay in all of its forms.

One of the best things that you can do is to talk about equal pay with family, friends and colleagues. If you want to, you can talk about your claim. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but there is no reason why you can’t.

Sometimes, people worry about being victimised if they bring an Equal Pay Claim, but there are strong laws in place to stop this from happening.

First generation minorities might not be fluent in English and may be worried about suffering discrimination as well as victimisation. This could be stopping them from signing up to claim equal pay. By talking about equal pay with your friends and colleagues you may help them overcome these fears. When you register for the claim with us you get Leigh Day’s support – we will have your back.

On the eve of the 50th year anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, it is important for us all to talk in solidarity and show our support for equality. We hope that you can go out and have conversations with friends and colleagues to spread the word about Equal Pay!

Blog written by Rahul Chohan, member of the Sainsbury’s Equal Pay Team

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