Caribbean employees face widest ethnicity pay gap, research finds

Findings released to mark Windrush Day also reveal half feel they are underpaid despite majority holding higher education qualifications

Credit: National Windrush Monument by artist Basil Watson photo: John Sibley/AFP/Getty Images

Caribbean employees experience the largest ethnicity pay gap compared to their colleagues, analysis has shown.

The research, published by Business in the Community (BITC) to mark Windrush Day today (22 June), shows that UK employees from a Caribbean background who are working in a professional occupation earn on average £3,814 less than their other colleagues.

It also reveals that more than half (55 per cent) of Caribbean employees feel they are underpaid for what they do, despite the majority (72 per cent) having a diploma, degree, master’s or PhD.

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Caribbean employees are also underrepresented in senior, higher-paid roles including professional, higher technical and higher management levels, the research found.

For this reason, more than a third (34 per cent) of the surveyed employees said they would like a mentor to help them try and overcome the existing barriers, while only 14 per cent already have a mentor.

The analysis was conducted by Queen Mary’s Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity and Birmingham Business School’s Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, and was based on BITC’s Race at Work surveys from 2015, 2018 and 2021.

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As the UK today celebrates the legacy of the Windrush generation, Sandra Kerr CBE, race director at BITC, said the country could not ignore the obstacles those from a Caribbean background still face today.

As part of a strategy to address the high pay gap, calls for the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting have been renewed. “Publishing this data ensures transparency, but it also helps employers ensure that action is directed to where it is needed most,” she said.

Echoing this, Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, said collecting and reporting ethnicity data was a useful way to evaluate how many employees an organisation had from underrepresented groups, and of developing ways to proactively attract more diverse talent.

“Businesses should also be considering wider approaches to facilitating workplace inclusion. For example, positive action tools in the recruitment strategy, diversity and unconscious bias training for managers, and communicating a clear zero-tolerance approach to bullying, discrimination or harassment,” he said.

"If you implement these, you'll end up with a better working environment where people from underrepresented groups feel welcomed and supported." 

The news comes after a separate study, conducted by OnePoll for INvolve at the beginning of May, found that of the 1,500 employees polled, 95 per cent were happy to share their ethnicity data with their company.

The same research, which also polled 500 business decision-makers, revealed that almost half (47 per cent) believed their organisation had an ethnicity pay gap, including up to 52 per cent in the IT industry and 64 per cent in the accounting and finance sector.

The UK government confirmed in March this year it did not intend to introduce any mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting rules, as it reasoned that collecting the data would be too administratively challenging and would create too much of a burden for employers.

Instead, the government recently published its new plan, entitled Inclusive Britain, that set out a number of actions aimed at reducing racial disparities across the country, including recommendations targeting other factors behind disparities, such as socioeconomic background, educational failure and family breakdown.