'I got a job after I removed my headscarf' - UK's racial inequality exposed

'I got a job after I removed my headscarf' - UK's racial inequality exposed

A Government report has found the ‘entrenched’ racial disparities between life outcomes across different ethnicities in the UK.

One female jobseeker told the BBC how race inequality has affected her life chances. Shazia Khan, 33, from Birmingham, says that she was only successful in a job interview after she removed her headscarf, which she wears for religious reasons.

"I was interviewed for six jobs that I didn't get,” she explains. "You know when you've done well in an interview and I just thought to myself, 'what am I doing wrong?'"

Khan said that her friends suggested she should try attending an interview without her headscarf. She gave it a go.

"After one of the first interviews I was offered the job. I was gobsmacked,” she told the BBC.

Rajesh Kumar Tewari, 42, and qualified with a Master’s degree in Criminology with distinction, told the publication that an adviser in a London job centre told him he had no chance of working as a police officer or in the civil service. "I worked hard for 4 years only to be told that it was meaningless,” he says. “I feel I have more chance of being handed a mop and bucket and being a warehouse cleaner than working in the government."

Morris, who asked that the BBC reveal his first name only, is black and says his career progression in local government was stunted due to his race. “Even though I was in a multicultural town, there were no black managers," he says.

These experiences are compounded by research from Green Park, which found that 82% of ethnic minority leaders believe there is institutional prejudice against minorities in the organisations they are working for. Almost one in five (18%) ethnic minority leaders have personally experienced workplace discrimination in the last two years.

While 60% of ethnic minority leaders believe racial inequality has moved up the agenda in recent months, two-thirds say the language is emotive and makes people uncomfortable. What’s worse, is more than one in ten employers (13%) have diversity target but no strategy. Nine per cent admitted to just replicating their gender diversity strategy.

The research found that the biggest barrier to inclusivity was undeveloped pipelines, a lack of commitment to diversity and a lack of recruitment accountability.

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The alarming disparities have prompted the Government and industry leaders to encourage employers to drive change. Dr Jill Miller, Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, believes that the UK has a long way to go until access to work and progression in UK workplaces is an equitable business. “We hope these stark figures are a catalyst to put race equality firmly on the agenda for employers,” she explains. “There is clearly considerable work to do to ensure workplace cultures are inclusive and that progression is based on merit, not identity, background or circumstance.”

The Green Park report also made a number of key recommendations for organisations to help them tackle the issue. They can be seen by clicking next…

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