‘Show me the money!’ – Diversity and the Pay Gap

‘Show me the money!’ – Diversity and the Pay Gap

Following on from Part One of our gender pay gap series, in which Catherine Gleave discusses the origins of the gender pay gap, in our latest installment, Esther Adetoba discusses the origins and urgency of narrowing the BME opportunity gap.

Diversity breeds innovation, and innovation promotes growth. This is a notion shared by Baroness McGregor-Smith who states that:

‘If BME [Black and Minority Ethnic] talent is fully utilised, the economy could receive a £24 billion boost.’

It is necessary to promote diversity and inclusion not only in the area of gender but also race, and whilst the conversation around the pay gap has centered on gender, an often neglected area is that of cultural diversity in the workplace. Perhaps it is time we ask ourselves whether there is an ethnicity pay gap in the UK and whether we could be doing more to address it.

The pay gap

There is a scene in the 2016 film Hidden Figures where a black NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson has to run across the NASA campus, past a number of available bathrooms to a ‘coloured’ bathroom; this was a dramatic scene, and one that demonstrated a blatant inequality. I think it is fair to say that workplaces around the world have made some advances in the area of diversity and inclusion since then. In the UK for example, during the 1990’s only 2% of solicitors were from Black, Asian or other Ethnic Minority (BAME) backgrounds; however the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) highlight the increase in representation in recent years with 14% of solicitors being from ethnic minority groups in 2014 and 21% by 2017. These are positive figures considering ‘11% of the UK workforce were BAME’ in 2015.

Whilst representation in the workplace is improving, an ethnicity pay gap persists. There have been a number of figures circulating due to the recent spike in gender pay activity, however ‘unlike the gender pay gap, there is no one single figure

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