Still an uphill battle for black women in the workplace

    Still an uphill battle for black women in the workplace

    A report produced by Business in the Community, back in August 2020, shone a light on an age old problem with some new data. Black employees are being held back in the workplace; and any fading misconception that lack of ambition is a prominent factor has been blown out of the water.

    The study, commissioned by the Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, which has more than 750 member companies found that:

    • 74 per cent of black employees want to progress their careers compared to 42 per cent of white people
    • 33 per cent of black employees feel their ethnicity could be a barrier to their next opportunity for a job or promotion, compared to just 1 per cent of white workers

    The Network’s publication, Race at Work: the Black Voices Report, also highlighted a crippling lack of consistent data. In 2018 the Government promised to make it mandatory for all companies with over 250 employees to report on their ethnicity pay gap, but distractions (COVID and Brexit) seem to have diverted attention elsewhere.

    So what do the Business in the Community figures tell us?

    42 per cent of white people want progression. Of course that doesn’t mean that 58 per cent of white people totally lack ambition; that palpably isn’t true. We suspect the reality is that around 31 per cent more white people, than black, are relatively happy with their career progression; they’ve made it, they are well on their way or are simply happy with their lot.

    Okay; 26 per cent of black people don’t yearn for faster progression, some of who may be happy with their position too. But clearly the ethnicity work satisfaction gap of 32 per cent matches exactly the percentage of black employees who feel they will be disadvantaged (more than their white colleagues) when they next send their CV off with hope.

    The conclusion: around a third of black employees feel they are being held back.

    And for women the problem is amplified. Compared with colleagues of other ethnicities black women have suffered in the workplace through lack of promotion, less interaction with senior management and so, logically, black women are vastly under-represented in board and leadership situations.

    Unconscious bias plays a part, and many managers may be unwittingly missing out on opportunities for their team, as well as the woman who is overlooked.

    This is crucial not just for the women who face these barriers; it matters for all of us. Not only is the situation just plainly wrong, it is holding back companies, boards, public sector leadership teams and housing associations…as well as the women. Extensive research tells us that more diverse boards and organisations perform better than the less inclusive, particularly in terms of morale and staff retention and, as any HR executive will know, it costs five times as much to recruit and train a new employee as it does to keep the existing member of staff trained and happy.

    And ambitious staff who can see a career path opening up in front of them tend to be happy.

    HDN’s Board Diversity Programme seeks to redress the balance by helping organisations to identify train and ultimately welcome high quality candidates from all races and ethnicities.

    Get in touch if you think we can help you to balance your leadership teams, by making the most of every talent and skill at your disposal.

Request a call back

Phone Icon

Would you like to speak to one of our advisors over phone?

Just Submit your details and we will be in touch shortly. You can also email us if you would prefer.

I would like to discuss:

Fields marked with an * are required