The Fawcett Society have published their Pay and Progression of Women of Colour literature review.

 You can find our exclusive with the Financial Times here.

We know that women of colour are massively underrepresented in management and senior leadership positions. However, for the first time, Fawcett’s review has brought together a whole life cycle of barriers evidenced in research and literature, which shows this isn’t just an isolated issue at the highest levels - the barriers facing women of colour begin well before they even set foot into the workplace, and this must be acknowledged.

We provide a map of the various iterations of structural discriminations and inequalities at different stages of their career pipeline, starting in school all the way to senior leadership stage. Some key findings include:

  • Compared with White British men, WoC consistently earn less per hour with pay gaps ranging from 10% for Indian women to 28% for Pakistani women.
  • When attempting to enter the workforce, ethnic minority candidates had to send 60% more job applications to receive as many calls backs as White British people
  • Just under one-third of WoC say they have been unfairly denied training or development opportunities which would enable promotion. This rose to more than half of disabled WoC (52%).
  • Whilst women make up 6% of CEOs of FTSE 100 companies and 35% of civil service permanent sectaries, not a single one of these are women of colour.

This report also presents solutions from the literature of what is needed from educators, employers and government to effectively tackle this life cycle of barriers WoC face in regard to pay and progression. It is imperative, not just to unlock the potential of WoC, but because doing so could add an extra £24 billion to the UK economy.

You can find more key findings and read the full report here.

This report is the first part of the wider Pay and Progression Project, in partnership with the Runnymede Trust. More details of this project can be found here.

Halima Begum, CEO of the Runnymede Trust, said: 

This is a vital report that shows how and why women of colour are often invisible in leadership positions across the workforce.

From school to the workplace, there are structural barriers standing in the way of women of colour, depriving them of the opportunities they deserve. Our report shows that these barriers exist across occupations and sectors. 

This research aims to support the voices of women of colour in the workplace, and challenge employers and decision makers to act.

Felicia Willow, Interim CEO of the Fawcett Society, said:

This report brings to the forefront the plethora of structural inequalities and disadvantages women of colour face when they are trying to progress in the workplace. It prompts us to think about how a life-cycle of systemic barriers cumulate to impact the pay and progression of WoC.

This review was the first step in collating current solutions – but more needs to be done by government and employers to alleviate these barriers at every stage. Our next stage of primary research will hear from groups of diverse WoC and we will announce our findings early next year.