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Race Disparity Audit – Labour Market

Race Disparity Audit – Labour Market

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday November 14 2017

The recent Race Disparity Audit revealed rising employment rates across all ethnic groups, with the highest national employment rate since 2004. However, the report also showed that Asians are severely disadvantaged in term of participation in the labour market.

Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals were proven to be the least likely to be employed, with an employment rate of only 54% – this is in comparison to a national employment rate of 74%.

Among the 29.5 million individuals employed in 2016, 637,000 (2.1%) were from Pakistani and Bangladeshi minorities (who constitute 2.8% of the general population according to the 2011 Census).

According to the report, 63% of Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals in the age group 25-49 were employed, compared with 85% of White British in the same age group. This is the lowest employment rate for individuals aged 25-49.

Pakistani and Bangladeshi also recorded the highest unemployment rate in 2016 (11%, compared to just 4% of their White counterparts).

The report also shows that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women were the least likely to be employed compared with other women from any other background.

Furthermore, in 2016, the gender employment rate gap was highest amongst Pakistani/Bangladeshi groups – indeed more than twice as many men (72%) were employed compared to women (35%) – a gap of 37 percentage points.

Considering that in England and Wales, 91.5% of Pakistanis and 90% of Bangladeshi (whose religion is known) are Muslim, previous research has shown that Muslim women “experience the highest levels of disadvantage in the labour market”. Indeed, one quarter of employers admit to “being reluctant to hire Muslim women due to concerns they will put family commitments and caring duties above their professional duties”. This is further demonstrated by the fact that in interviews, 1 in 8 British Pakistani women have been asked about their plans to get married or have children, compared to 1 in 30 white women.

Pakistani and Bangladeshi are also more likely than workers in other ethnic groups to be concentrated in the three lowest-skilled occupation groups, with more than 2 in 5 Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers in these lower-skilled occupations.

During the period between April-June 2013, and October-December 2016, Pakistani and Bangladeshi individuals also received the lowest hourly pay rate of any other group.

The body of evidence demonstrating employment discrimination against Muslims, is well established.

Minorities seeking to access the labour market face discrimination at all stages of recruitment, retention and promotion, and frequently suffer from a severely weakened socio-economic status. In a study conducted by the BBC, 50 companies were sent fictitious applications from six different applicants, two with traditional English names and four with ethnic sounding names two of which were Muslim names. The study showed that 25% of applications from applicants with traditional English names prompted a positive response and an interview offer while only 9% of the ‘Muslim’ applications resulted in the same. In 2017, another BBC study showed that ‘Adam’ was three times more likely to receive an interview offer than ‘Mohamed’, despite identical skills, experiences and applications.

As far back as 2003, the Cabinet Office advised that tackling such a discrimination would pay a “double dividend”, whereby advancing opportunities for minority and Muslim employment would unleash the potential for growth whilst also tackling the deeper problems that arise from social exclusion.

If Theresa May is serious about effectively combatting the widespread inequalities in British society, discrimination in the labour market would be the natural starting point.


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