Why aren’t we talking about it?

How are black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues paid differently from their white counterparts? The BAME pay gap attempts to show just that.

But (and it’s a big but), while compulsory gender pay gap reporting dominated headlines earlier this year, the BAME pay gap was largely unreported – both by organisations themselves and by the media. Perhaps this is due to there not being a legal requirement for organisations to report their BAME pay gap.

Nonetheless, some businesses and institutions did do so, and they should be commended for their commitment to transparency and in their attempt to shed light on the issue.

ITN voluntarily published their BAME pay gap report, which revealed a 20.8% median gap between BAME and white colleagues, rising to 50% in bonuses. Similarly, the professional services firm PwC published their BAME pay gap at 12.8%, rising to 35.4% in bonuses.

Both reveal an imbalance in value placed on BAME and white employees, but also an imbalance in how these employees are rewarded. How can we expect a fair representation at senior management level or in the boardroom, if the opportunity for reward, recognition and promotion are 50% less for BAME employees?

Indeed, this may be the reason why the BAME pay gap is largely unreported and also simply not discussed. There is a distinct lack of BAME employees in positions of power to open up the conversation, to give voice to the issue and to make an impact for change.

As well as a distinct lack of voices for BAME colleagues, there also seems to be a lack of willingness to engage in this conversation.

Is sexism in the workplace more palatable so more comfortable to talk about? Is the suggestion of racism in the workplace, brought to light by BAME pay gap reporting, simply too sensitive a subject? And then, of course, there are those for whom sexism and racism in the workplace intersect – how do we tackle intersectionality in pay?

These are complex issues, but ones not to shy away from. Opening up these conversations in your workplace can have tangible benefits to your organisation and to how your business is viewed from both the inside out and outside in.

Not sure where to start with these conversations? Start by talking to Tell Jane.

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