Depressing new figures show Black, Asian and minority ethnic origin employees are paid up to 37.5% less per hour than their white colleagues.

A report into the gaps found they were caused not by BAME employees being paid less in the same role, but by an under-representation of people from such backgrounds in senior jobs.

Omar Khan wrote in the Guardian earlier this week that “There is clearly discrimination in employment, with people with equivalent qualification but with African and Asian surnames having to send in twice as many CVs just to get an interview. Black and minority-ethnic people are also more likely to face disciplinary action and other decisions that most affect progression and pay.”

The ethnicity pay gap will only close with the increased representation of BAME employees in senior positions. However, organisations need to look at the bigger picture in order to become more inclusive. 

Khan explains that “Tackling poverty and class disadvantage would also do a lot to tackle racial inequalities, with nearly half of ethnic-minority children living in poverty. London has some of the highest deprivation in the country, with the borough of Tower Hamlets having the highest child poverty and highest pensioner poverty in all of England. Government needs to respond better to these inequalities. Until employers directly tackle not only unconscious bias but institutional and interpersonal discrimination, people of colour in London and across the UK won’t have fair job opportunities.”

So how can employers respond to these inequalities and begin closing the gap within their organisation?

Here are some examples and tools from people who are taking action today:

  • BAME role models: When we have spoken to BAME employees about their experiences, many cite “lack of people like me in senior positions” as a reason for feeling uncomfortable in, or leaving, an organisation. Having diversity at the top can also promote diversity at the bottom, as decision-makers more easily recognise and harness BAME talent. Additionally, diversity at the top may also result in diversity of ideas that lead to better decision-making.
  • Networks: BAME staff as a group can raise awareness of common challenges faced. Not only can networks provide a positive force within an organisation, they are also make a positive impact in ethnically diverse communities through schools outreach and business partnerships. Particularly in professional services or finance where candidates might have misconceptions about who can succeed, workshop and skills sessions can raise aspirations, develop motivation, and increase awareness of opportunities.
  • Contextual recruitment: 30% of Deloitte’s graduate hiring last year used contextual recruitment which assesses candidate performance based on context e.g. educations, social economic background etc. Deloitte found no difference in grad performance after 12 months across the cohort
  • Unconscious bias training: ‘Blindspot: The Hidden Biases of Good People’ pointed out that all people have hidden biases. Education and training can help recruiters recognise and mitigate their unconscious tendencies
  • UnBiaed is a Chrome extension that hides a candidate's profile picture and name when you're looking at their GitHub or LinkedIn page or their Twitter feed. Like name-blind CVs, the tool reduces the room for unconscious bias
  • Data: attraction is important but it is only half of the story. Collecting data on employee engagement and exit interviews is vital in monitoring inflow and outflow, and ensuring continuous improvement.

It’s well known that organisations with diverse workforces better understand their customers, adopt a more rounded approach to risk-taking, make better decisions and, ultimately, perform better than those without. Our Diversity & Inclusion consultancy brings together a range of TMP specialisms that can help you realise those benefits too.

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Photograph: Alamy from The Guardian