Triple Glazed Ceiling: Barriers to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Women participating in the economy

22nd August 2019

Since Chwarae Teg was established, much progress has been made towards achieving gender equality in Wales. However, the picture of progress towards equality changes dramatically when we focus on the intersectional experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) women living in Wales.

BAME women are increasingly marginalised; they are further away from the labour market, underrepresented in positions of power and influence, and are more likely to be living in poverty. While BAME women experience the well-documented gendered barriers to the workplace, such as access to childcare, they face additional racial inequalities and biases that make it increasingly difficult to access, enter and progress in work.

However, the experiences of BAME women are not homogenous; they vary significantly on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, age, religion and migration status as well as other factors of identity. Therefore a one-size fits all approach to addressing barriers faced by BAME women will not work. It is crucial that the voices and experiences of different BAME women are heard, and used to inform policy and practice at Government level, in business, in trade unions and in wider civil society. These institutions should be more diverse, with fair representation of BAME women to ensure they are able to serve everyone equally.

To date, the experiences of BAME women have largely been overlooked in research, particularly in a Welsh context, with a lack of disaggregated and regularly collected data making it difficult to measure progress. This research aims to begin to correct this gap in knowledge about the experiences of BAME women in the Welsh economy, and start a discussion based on their own recommendations for Wales.

With this research we set out policy recommendations for Government, Business, Trade Unions and other agencies in order to address some of the barriers that BAME women face to employment. We also aim to spark a wider conversation about the role of BAME women in the Welsh economy, to ensure that their voices are heard and that they are able to achieve their potential. Many of our findings and recommendations will be clearly felt and understood by BAME women themselves, but should be illuminating for others. We commit to using our position and influence for all women.

Triple Glazed Ceiling

You can read the Triple Glass Ceiling: Barriers to Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Women from participating in the economy on our website here.

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Summary report
22nd Aug 2019
Behind the Research: What we’ve learned

We were only able to conduct this research with the guidance and support of organisations across Wales who work with BAME women. Some reflections from them on the research and the impact they hope it will have can be read here:

Sadly, in Wales, BAME women are underrepresented in positions of influence so I am pleased that the research demonstrates the positive contributions of BAME women practitioners and entrepreneurs to the Welsh economy. Hopefully the findings will instigate collaborative measures for employers and policy makers for BAME women to achieve employment equity.

Humie Webbe
National Training Federation Wales

At DPIA we see first-hand how BAME women, in particular those from refugee backgrounds, are facing complex barriers to gaining employment. Language barriers, lack of work experience and cultural expectations mean women are disadvantaged and lack opportunities for meaningful participation in the Welsh economy. Lack of recognition of prior learning and qualifications create significant barriers towards equality and increase isolation and poverty. DPIA would like to thank Chwarae Teg for carrying out this timely piece of research and helping raise awareness of the disadvantages facing BAME women.

Faruk Ogut
Displaced People in Action

Supporting minority groups and individuals in times of division and uncertainty related to Brexit is a necessity. This research is important because it highlights how appropriate support can harness the positives and strengthen the UKs economy. Mostly, people need strategies to build their confidence and to see the bigger picture in which direction to go.

I hope that findings will demonstrate the benefits of relevant actions, for example collaborative work between governments and non-governing agencies to support minority groups and individuals who are hoping to run their own businesses.

Monika Frackowiak
Siema Biz Forum

Having a diverse Welsh economy would encourage BME women to aspire to seek jobs never thought of due to fears of discrimination and exclusion. Having a diverse workforce will bring new experiences that will benefit the employers and the employees and thus it is vital to tackle those barriers effectively by having workable and practical policies in place.

Sahar Al-Faifi,
Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND)
Aliya Mohammed, Race Equality First

“We have made strides in achieving equality for women, but as we know, there is still a long way to go. This applies especially to BAME women: a large majority of our female beneficiaries tell us they often feel isolated, even in the workplace, and that they are limited to ‘poor work’ with low pay and few prospects for progression, making it difficult for them to escape from poverty – even whilst in work. This research is very timely and it will highlight the key barriers experienced by BAME women in their career advancement and also, to an extent, the links between poverty and ethnicity.”

Samina Khan, Cardiff and Vale College

“BAME communities, particularly women, continue to face barriers to employment despite there being a Public Sector Equality Duty which has been in place since 2011. The socio-economic profile of Wales suggests that BAME people are some of the poorest and most disadvantaged in our communities. Lack of economic participation of BAME women will continue to impact on aspirations of the next generation as well as contribute to maintaining communities in the poverty trap. This research is long overdue and timely with the WG gender equality review underway. It is hoped that recommendations will inform WG policy that will impact positively on BAME and other women.”

Shavanah Taj, PCS Welsh Secretary/Vice President Wales TUC

“This important piece of research is very timely as we enter into a period of Brexit through the lens of a new UK Prime Minister and possible general election.

“For too many people, including BAME women, work has become insecure, uncertain and low paid. Far from being the opportunity to progress for individuals and communities, work has become a poverty trap for many. I welcome Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip’s commitment to working in partnership with WTUC and the Wales Race Forum to develop a sustainable talent pipeline to improve BAME representation in public and private sector senior leadership roles as well as improving workplace cultures to support diversity, ensuring employers are delivering on mandatory ethnicity Pay Reporting and practical delivery of Race at Work Charters. Such initiatives and actions are an absolute must if we are to be truly representative of today’s Wales.”

Ginger Wiegand, Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST)

“This research represents a timely and urgent call to action. Research has shown time and again that ethnic pay penalties are persistent and entrenched and that BAME women bear the brunt of austerity. For all sectors and people in Wales, this is a serious human rights concern, which is entrenched institutionally and requires urgent attention and action.”