The Conservatives’ iconic ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ advert has been subverted by non-profit People Like Us, with media planning and buying from VCCP Media, as part of a new campaign designed to raise the alarm on pay inequality faced by ethnic minority workers in the UK. The reimagined artwork depicts a line of people from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds “queuing for a pay rise”, with text highlighting how they’re paid an average of 16% less than their white counterparts. The campaign launch follows the Prime Minister’s major speech last week, where he stated that creating better-paid jobs and opportunity across the country was a priority for growing the economy.
Ethnicity pay gap reporting has been debated in parliament over the past two years though there are currently no plans to make ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ report and subsequent “Inclusive Britain” report published in March 2022 recommended that businesses report disparities voluntarily although there have been low levels of uptake. There have been joint calls for the bill from organisations including the Equality and Human Rights Commission, The Trade Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.
Stark ethnicity pay gap
In 2022, People Like Us revealed research which shows workers from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds are paid 84% of what their white counterparts earn. It also found that two thirds (67%) of racially diverse working professionals polled said they have had reason to believe that a white colleague doing the same job as them was on a higher salary. A quarter (24%) said they suspected the disparity in pay was up to £5,000, meaning people of colour could be losing out on £255,000 of earnings in a working lifetime due to the stark racially ethnic pay gap*.
Of those from racially diverse backgrounds who struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion, over a quarter (26%) left their industry because they weren't given a pay rise they felt they deserved while half (50%) said not getting a salary increase or promotion has caused them to suffer with anxiety or depression.
Cost of living crisis
Recent research from People Like Us and Censuswide showed professionals surveyed from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds say government support will not see them through the next six months, a rate 7% higher than their white counterparts (52% vs 45%). This is causing them to dip into savings at a greater rate, with ethnic minority professionals’ savings declining 1.3x faster than their white colleagues (falling 16% vs. last year; compared to 13% for white professionals). Therefore professionals from racially diverse backgrounds are facing a two-fold crunch, in which they are getting too little government support, and will also ‘run out of road’ faster than their white colleagues when it comes to their savings.
Sheeraz Gulsher, co-founder of People Like Us commented: “Imagine if the government announced a flat, 16% monthly tax on your entire earnings next week. That is the reality today for Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic employees in the UK. If your skin isn't White, you can work the same amount and get paid 16% less. It's a tax on the colour of your skin. The most frustrating part is that this isn't a problem without a solution; since Gender Pay Gap reporting was introduced in 2017, the gender pay gap has decreased – it’s still there, but it's gradually moving in the right direction as businesses put more action behind equality. We want the same principles to be applied to workers from an ethnic minority background.
“Mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting will allow businesses to have a clear snapshot of how workers are paid, enabling them to address discrimination head-on. Businesses must be held to account publicly and workers deserve to know where they stand in terms of pay.
"As we head towards a recession and the cost of living crisis is hitting lower earners the hardest, we must take this simple step to address disparities and make tangible change in the lives of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic workers in the UK.”