Women of colour face racism in UK workplace, report finds

Three in four women of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds have experienced racism at work, and 27% have suffered racial slurs, according to a new report.

Gender equality organisation the Fawcett Society and race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust found that institutional racism, discrimination and entrenched negative workplace cultures hold back women of colour in the UK.

For instance, 50% of women of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage and 48% of women of Black African heritage stated that they had been criticised for behaviours other colleagues get away with at work, compared to 29% of White British women.

Black women of Caribbean heritage and women of East Asian and Chinese heritage were the least likely to report ‘often’ or ‘always’ feeling comfortable in their workplace culture, at 43% and 41%, respectively.

Overall, 6 in 10 (61%) women of colour said they change themselves to ‘fit in’ at work, including the language or words they use (37%), their hairstyle (26%) and even their name (22%). This is known as ‘code-switching’.

Many are also locked out of progression in their career: 28% of women of colour (compared with 19% of white women) reported that a manager had blocked their progression at work, and 42% said they had been passed over for promotion despite good feedback (compared to 27% for white women).

The report calls on employers to:

* implement effective, evidence based Anti-Racism Action Plans with clear and measurable targets, and regular monitoring and evaluation of progress;

* have clear and transparent processes for reporting racism, with multiple reporting routes, including options outside of line management structures; and

* set structures that ensure line managers deliver equitable and fair promotion outcomes for all employees and make progression routes explicit and well-known rather than based on informal networks.

More women in the UK working beyond 60

More women in the UK are working past the age of 60, according to a report out today which takes a look at trends in the job market over a two-year period.

This development is thought to be due to changes in legislation which mean that women have to wait longer until they can claim the state pension, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Since April 2010 the age at which women can first receive their state pension has been rising from 60. The state pension age for women currently stands at 61 years and five months and is due to rise to 66 by 2020.

Among those women directly affected by the reform, employment has increased. Moreover, the change has also impacted on the retirement age of some of the husbands of the affected women. The IFS says that this may be because they are delaying their own retirement so that both partners can retire together, or to cover their wives’ lost pension income with additional earnings.

Figures from the IFS report show that employment rates among 60-year-old women increased by 7.3 percentage points following the one-year increase in the female state pension age, from 60 to 61, between April 2010 and April 2012. This means that in April 2012 there were 27,000 more women in work than there would otherwise have been.

Over the same period, employment rates among the husbands of these women increased by 4.2 percentage points, which resulted in 8,300 more men staying in work. Taken together, there were around 35,000 more men and women in work as a direct result of the increase in the female state pension age from 60 to 61, despite the weak performance of the UK economy over that time, said Jonathan Cribb, a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and a co-author of the report.

Cribb also highlighted the fact that more than half of women aged 60 are now in paid work for the first time ever.

The IFS concludes that as a result of these changes in the working population the UK’s public finances have been strengthened by around GBP2.1bn.

Women bear the brunt of unemployment

Out of 28,000 people that lost their jobs between November and January, 22,000 were women.

That means a staggering eight out of ten workers to lose their jobs were female.

The latest employment statistics show a worrying trend where women are the hardest hit by unemployment.

The number of women accepting part-time work because they could not secure full-time employment is at its highest level for twenty years.

The amount of women claiming job seekers allowance is also at its highest for 17 years, reaching 531,000.

The number of women on jobseekers allowance has more than doubled since the credit crunch in August 2007 when the number stood at 228,000.

Liam Byrne, Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, said: ‘The surge in women’s unemployment is reaching shocking levels.’

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘Women are still being hit hardest by job losses.

‘It is shameful to see that not only are women bearing the brunt of the recession, they are unemployed in record numbers and are hardest hit by the cuts to public services and jobs.’

The figures published by the Office for National Statistics this week show that older females are suffering more so than younger women.

The number of women between the ages of 50 and 64 are at record levels, with 148,000 women job hunting.