Black and South Asian women take two months longer to secure first job, research finds

While these women display higher levels of confidence about their career trajectory, they face barriers to progression and worsened mental health

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Black and south Asian women take on average two months longer than white colleagues to land their first job after leaving education, research has found.

A study, Uplifting Black and South Asian women in the workplace, released by Totaljobs and the Diversity Trust, found that it took the average black woman 5.1 months to secure their first role after leaving education, while south Asian women took 4.9 months.

In comparison, white women took just 2.8 months on average to secure their first job, while white men took 3.4 months.

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The findings also show that, while black and south Asian women had higher levels of confidence about their career trajectory than their white counterparts, this stagnated as their careers progressed.

Nearly two-thirds (66 per cent) of black women and 62 per cent of south Asian women who had not yet started work said they believed they could achieve anything with their future career, compared to just 38 per cent of white women and 46 per cent of white men.

However, further into their careers, confidence levels for black and south Asian women were largely the same (64 per cent and 62 per cent respectively), while confidence among white women and white men had increased to 43 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.

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Jon Wilson, CEO at Totaljobs, said employee confidence should increase as their careers progress, but that many black and south Asian women “find themselves in workplaces that are not meeting their needs, whether that’s in the form of unaddressed discrimination, the additional pressures that come with a lack of representation, or simply not feeling comfortable to be themselves”.

“A person’s career journey should see their confidence building over time, as their employer supports their desire for growth and ambition for career progression,” Wilson said.

The research found that while 59 per cent of all black and south Asian women believed their employer supported their ambitions, 30 per cent of those at managerial level said they felt they needed to work harder than their colleagues to secure their position.

The analysis also showed code switching – where a member of a minority group feels the need to change the way they speak or behave to fit into a company culture – and discrimination at work were taking their toll, with nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of black and south Asian women reporting their wellbeing at work had suffered as a result.

Tinashe Verhaeghe, consultant at the Diversity Trust, said that despite the hardships, the women involved in the report had both confidence in themselves and a desire for employers to make the necessary changes to improve their chances to succeed in the workplace.

“There is sufficient evidence of the need for change, the impetus is now on employers and colleagues to act,” she said.