“All unemployment is equally tragic but women from ethnic minority backgrounds face a greater challenge to enter the labour market than most. Not only do many employers continue to discriminate against women that they worry will leave employment to start a family, they are also victims of on-going prejudice against ethnic minority women in recruitment.
During our investigation we heard from countless women who changed their name or their appearance, either because they thought it would stand them in better stead in looking for a job or, in the worst cases, because prospective employers specifically asked them to do so.
This has massive implications for families and society as a whole – particularly given the large numbers for Black families where the mother is the sole breadwinner and the high poverty rates of Pakistani and Bangladeshi families .” David Lammy, Labour MP
Today, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Race and Community published its report on ethnic minority female unemployment following its inquiry into the issue. Earlier on in the week, the BBC who happened to grab a sneak peek into the report touched upon the fact that despite latest official figures showing a national fall in unemployment, an apparent racial bias against female ethnic minorities in particular is still holding some women back from getting a job.
I am 25 and although not planning to start a family any time soon, I believe that several women orchestrate their career choices based on how and when they see themselves starting a family. From the facts, it would appear that despite encouraging testimonials from the array of women’s metropolitan magazines, on how the modern women can sustain a healthy work life balance, it seems several employers beg to differ. In this report, we see that in addition to being discriminated against their names and accents, it’s startling but unsurprising that potential childcare requirements were seen as a problem for several employers. Bummer!
With 17.7% of Black women and 20.5% of Bangladeshi and Pakistani women looking for work being unemployed compared to only 6.8% of white women, the inquiry found that this gap has remained constant for Black women since the 1980s, and has actually worsened for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women since 2004.
Throughout the report and inquiry it was found that service providers, employers and the Government frequently dealt with women and ethnic minorities as separate entities and undertook little work or data monitoring on these two characteristics combined. This report shows that ethnic minority women – and in particular Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women – have specific needs and a specific experience of the labour market and unemployment.
Although I do recognise that there may be different needs based of cultural experiences, I do not believe that the needs of ethnic minorities in this country should be treated as a special case; but rather a greater push for societal integration needs to take place if the unacceptably high levels of unemployment of these women are to be solved. In my opinion, politician’s, policy makers and employers need to call for more robust intelligence alongside the promotion of societal integration rather than racial side-lining.
Of all the 24 recommendations in the report, these five I felt should be dealt with most urgently. Let me know your thoughts!
Recommendation 1: Better information on ethnic minority female unemployment is needed. A government department or non-departmental public body should collect this data and consider publishing a regular report on public sector redundancies broken down by ethnicity
Recommendation 5: The Government should publish an action plan to increase take-up of blank name application forms, with the Government leading the way by piloting its use in at least one of its departments.
Recommendation 6: Professional associations should provide improved guidance offering greater clarity regarding the equivalency between UK and overseas qualifications and experience of employment.
Recommendation 12: Given the larger numbers of older women from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds entering the workplace for the first time, Job Centre Plus should be clear on how they are meeting the specific needs of these women, particularly taking into account cultural and language needs.
Recommendation 14: It should be considered whether cultural awareness training is needed for Job Centre Plus advisers in particular areas of the country.