Ethnic minorities still face barriers to job progression

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Glass ceilings are forcing UK employees from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds to leave their current jobs in order to progress, claims a new report by Race for Opportunity.

The report, ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ revealed that nearly a fifth of BAME employees have never been promoted, and on average receive far fewer promotions than their white counterparts. In contrast, white British employees having the lowest levels of ambition yet are being promoted at a far greater rate. There is, however, no ceiling to the ambition of ethnic minority workers in the UK with the majority aspiring to lead an organisation.

What is clear from the report is that levels of ambition vary between the different ethnic groups. ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ found that African, Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani employees were the most ambitious, with African and Indian employees consistently topping the ambition scales.

This high level of ambition within the BAME workforce is matched in confidence, with seven out of ten ethnic minority employees certain about their next career move. Despite this confidence, nearly half of BAME employees feel that they have to leave their current employer in order to progress.

Race for Opportunity also asked what the perceived barriers were to realising these ambitions. Nearly 60% of Pakistani, 55% of African and half of Chinese employees do not feel they are supported by their line manager. Additionally, there is inadequate provision for training, with ethnic minority respondents saying they had been on fewer than two training schemes in the last year

Sandra Kerr, national director of Race for Opportunity, says of the latest report: “It is blindingly obvious that organisations are not providing BAME employees with adequate support at both line and senior management levels and training. Being equipped to do their job to the best of their ability is the basic right of any employee in order to feel valued in their employment and be able to work towards achieving their career ambitions. We asked employees from all backgrounds what they wanted from their employer and they responded with three simple demands – feeling valued, proper pay and adequate training. In all cases it is hard to understand why employers have failed to deliver on these fronts.”

The report highlights that this is not simply an issue limited to employers, but is also highly prevalent in the recruitment industry. For the great number of BAME individuals looking for a new job to further their careers, only a small minority feel that recruitment agents treat people from their ethnic background fairly when putting them forward for roles. Shockingly, 73% of Bangladeshi and 72% of Caribbean employees and more than two thirds of Pakistani respondents said that they had been treated unfairly when using a recruitment agency.

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  1. It seems tobe the case across the country and across the careers/ professions. It may be more progressive for BME workers/professionals to set up private business to improve future prospects. In some cases it may be possible to run a business alongside other employment.

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