Black And South Asian Women Wait Two Months Longer To Land First Job

It takes Black women five months to secure their first role after education.
Delmaine Donson via Getty Images

Black and South Asian women in the UK take at least two months longer than their white colleagues to secure their first job after leaving education, research from Totaljobs has revealed.

After finishing education, it takes Black women, on average, 5.1 months to secure their first role, and South Asian women 4.9 months. This is in comparison to 3.4 months for white men and 2.8 months for white women, new research found.

The new report, which comes from Totaljobs and The Diversity Trust, assesses the career journeys of Black and South Asian women in the UK.

“The findings in this study are significant, highlighting some of the structural and institutional barriers that Black and South Asian women face to succeeding in their chosen career,” Tinashe Verhaeghe, consultant at The Diversity Trust said.

Progression paradox

Though Black and South Asian women are less likely to secure a job after leaving education, many of them believed they would. The research found higher levels of confidence and optimism among Black and South Asian women upon leaving education.

Before stepping into the world of work, 66% of Black women and 62% of South Asian women believed they could achieve anything in their future career; compared to just 38% of white women and 46% of white men.

Further into their careers, 64% of Black women and 62% of South Asian women are confident in their career trajectory – compared to 53% of white men and 43% of white women. Even though these levels are still higher than their white colleagues, it shows that the levels of confidence felt by Black and South Asian women starts to wane when they enter employment; in comparison to the confidence of white colleagues, which increases drastically after they leave education.

Despite high levels of confidence, and the fact that three fifths of Black and South Asian women believe their employer supports their ambitions, two thirds of these women at managerial level believe that their ethnicity and/or gender has impacted their progression into a position of leadership.

Discrimination and associated pressures

The report highlighted the pressures and discrimination faced by Black and South Asian women as they progress throughout their careers. Two thirds of Black and South Asian women (70% of Black women, 63% of South Asian women) felt the need to “code-switch” at work, i.e feeling the need to change the language they use, appearance, tone of voice, name, and mannerisms.

Almost a third (29%) of Black and South Asian women felt unable to report incidents of discrimination because they didn’t feel comfortable in doing so. Whilst a quarter of the participants had a lack of confidence in a resolution and 13% believed they would be penalised themselves for reporting it.


These incidents of code-switching and discrimination at work are taking their toll, with the majority of Black and South Asian women (62%) saying that their wellbeing has suffered at work.

Of those who have struggled with their wellbeing at work, just three in 10 Black and South Asian women say they have received good levels of support from their employer. Only 31% felt comfortable reaching out to a manager, while one in eight said they reached out for support but have not received it.

Over a third (35%) of Black women and 34% of South Asian women are part of an employee-led network; but only 12% of these are funded by their employer. An additional 12% are not endorsed by their organisation and are part of an external network. Over half of these women believe such groups can help to make the workplace more inclusive.