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Institutional Obstacles to ethnic minority women revealed in new research

The Fawcett Society and Government Equalities Office have published research that shows significant institutional obstacles in the way of progression to ethnic minority women leaders

The research has unravelled that two new forms of organisational discrimination are developing:

  • Tokenism: organisations are placing ethnic minority women in senior roles to improve their organisations' equality credentials. As a result, senior ethnic minority women are facing widespread assumptions that they are not in their roles because of their own merit or abilities.
  • Typecasting: ethnic minority women are being streamed into equality and diversity roles even where their training and professional skills lie elsewhere. This represents a huge mismanagement of resources in the labour market.

Respondents from the Public sector painted a darker picture of tokenism and than those interviewed in the private sector. The research also reveals that family responsibilities are deeply effecting ethnic minority women's recruitment, career progression and quality of working life.

Commenting on the findings, zohra moosa, Senior Policy Officer Race & Gender, Fawcett Society said: "The time for business as usual is well past. Leading organisations will only be able to stay ahead if their working cultures catch up to the realities of today's workforce – including being tough on prejudice and discrimination. Not making the most of the skills and abilities of ethnic minority women means missing out on a huge pool of specialist talent. The Routes to Power research shows that organisations across all sectors are struggling to reward expertise when it’s found in ethnic minority women."

In her interview about what it's like being one of so few senior black women leaders Carol Lake, Managing Director at JP Morgan said: "The biggest obstacle is having to create on your own. We're going up that mountain on our own, we don’t know where that next cliff is. You're going to fall off, no one has gone before and with others the ropes are already there. They're being pulled up and that's my sense of frustration."

In her interview about what needs to change Valorie Todd, Managing Director at Transport for London said: "You've got to have good managers who really do manage their people and manage them effectively, so they think about their development needs, think about how to get the best out of them, and how to get them to enjoy work and think about flexible working at work. It's not rocket science but the lack of flexibility does deter a lot of women."

The report includes analysis of three focus groups with ethnic minority women who are currently becoming more high profile and senior as local councillors, grassroots activists, and in public life.

Posted by, Asif Yusuf

 

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