Most minority ethnic groups continued to earn less than white British employees in 2019, new data has shown.
The ethnicity pay gap differs across regions and is largest in London at 23.8% and smallest in Wales at 1.4%, latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate.
The pay gap between white people and minority ethnic groups is larger for employees aged 30 and over than for those in the 16 to 29 age bracket.
Overall, the gap between between these groups has narrowed to its smallest level since 2012 in England and Wales.
All data were collected before the impact of the Covid-19 on the UK economy.
Dianne Greyson is the director of Equilibrium Mediation Consulting Ltd – a HR consultancy advises the public and private sector on equality and diversity.
In 2018, she established the #EthnicityPayGap campaign for awareness around the issue, which has since been backed by the Fawcett Society, Equality Trust and Good Governance Institute.
“I have been campaigning for over two and a half years to get the ethnicity pay gap addressed. The #EthnicityPayGap campaign continues to raise issues about the disparity between ethnic minorities and their white counterparts,” she said.
“What continues to surprise me is the lack of debate about this issues. If organisations can hold debates about the gender pay gap, why can they not discuss the ethnicity pay gap?”
Greyson feels that the issue has not been given the attention it warrants because decision makers invariably fail to prioritise the interests of ethnic minority communities.
A petition calling for the government to mandate ethnicity pay gap reporting for individual companies garnered over 100,000 signatures – but has yet to be debated in parliament despite meeting the consideration criteria.
In an official response published via the page on July 30, the government said it ran a consultation from October 2018 to January 2019 on the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay reporting. It is currently analysing these and will respond by the end of this year.
“The government has yet to demonstrate their desire to make ethnicity pay
gap reporting mandatory,” said Greyson. “This has slipped far down the agenda.
“While I appreciate the times we are currently living in has caused the government to focus their attention on the important issue of Covid, I do hope they will debate it in parliament given that there has been over 100,000 people who have signed the petition to make ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory.”
The call for more data around the ethnic pay gap has been ongoing.
Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, a Conservative peer and former chief executive of outsourcing group Mitie, authored an independent review into racial disparities in the British workplace in February 2017.
She recommended that the government force companies to introduce ethnic pay gap reporting. However, three and a half years later, none of the key recommendations from her report has been implemented.
On the other hand, organisations with more than 250 employees have had to publish data on their gender pay gaps since 2018.
The same year, think-tank Resolution Foundation revealed that Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees are losing out on £3.2bn a year in wages compared to white colleagues doing the same work.
Union GMB said the disparity in London was “a shaming indictment of the structural discrimination in our society”.
National secretary Rehana Azam said: “While any progress is welcome, today’s figures underline just how far the UK has to go before pay justice is achieved for all workers.
“We urgently need mandatory employer ethnicity pay gap reporting to be introduced, tough action against discriminatory employers, and a comprehensive plan to address the structural causes of unequal treatment in our society.”