Women from minority backgrounds in Britain are significantly more likely to be excluded from the workforce, and thus the economy. For proof, you need to look no further than 2018 government data on economic inactivity, in which a few interesting figures emerge.
The largest percentage of economic inactivity in British society is seen in Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, over half of which are not part of the workforce. Meanwhile, Asian, Black, and Indian women all represent higher percentages of inactivity than any male demographic, and white women are the only group with a figure below 25%.
The reasons behind the lack of BAME women in work are, of course, incredibly complex. Cultural factors, like the expectation to stay at home and take care of children or a lack of financial independence, do play a part. However, it is impossible to ignore the systematic disadvantages faced by BAME women in our society, especially when it comes to economic advancement.
In this post, we are going to look in a little more detail into why the figures above are important, and what changing them could mean for the future of our society.
- Economic Inclusion Is Crucial
Women from minority ethnic backgrounds face a whole host of challenges in modern Britain. Exclusion from the labor market is easily one of the most significant. This is because of the many knock-on effects it can have, both on an individual and a societal level.
Fewer minority women in the workplace means that many BAME women, who are already statistically more likely to live in poverty, do not have the opportunities to improve their situation. They will also be more likely to remain financially dependent on others, and may be more isolated from their communities. Meanwhile, fewer diverse voices in positions of power and influence allows unequal systems to remain in place.
- Barriers To Advancement
Even when women from minority backgrounds do join the workplace, they face systematic barriers to advancement at almost every turn. They are less likely to be promoted or considered for important positions, and there is a severe shortage of BME mentors in the workplace for them to look up to. It is no wonder, then, that less than half of BAME women feel included in company decision-making.
Aside from the obvious moral implications, this is bad news for the companies themselves. By now, the evidence that diversity is good for profits is overwhelming. Diversity and inclusion practices are making a start at improving this, but there is much to be done.
- Uncertain Future
Experts believe that Brexit is likely to affect minorities harder than any other demographic. This goes beyond the increasingly hostile environment for immigrants (although this is an unfortunate reality). Those statistically most likely to live in poverty will be hit harder by the economic uncertainty caused by the leaving process, especially if austerity measures remain in practice.
- Untapped Potential
Government data estimates that untapped BME potential represents a whopping £24 billion for the UK economy. Economic inequality is about more than the individual; society as a whole suffers when entire demographics are excluded from the labor market. In a time when the UK faces an unprecedented level of uncertainty, being able to tap into the skills and knowledge of migrant and minority women will prove essential.
Of course, here at Preservation Culture, we know that the potential of women from ethic minority backgrounds extends far beyond economic growth. These groups bring a rich cultural heritage, complete with unique skills and perspectives. Their voices need to be part of our everyday conversations about the future of the planet and society.
We focus on a small area: cultural knowledge of food preservation and resourcefulness. However, the scope of untapped cultural, social, economic, and political potential in BAME women remains massive.
It’s time to start changing that!