For those of us who were raised to “not see colour” in an effort to avoid prejudice, it can feel uncomfortable and even seem racist to pay attention to the colour of people’s skin. But unfortunately, when we are not aware of issues, then we are not able to fix problems that are happening in our society.
For example, did you know, that here in the UK, black women are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women?
Or that black British people are nearly 4 times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white British people?
Or that, on average, British citizens from ethnic minority backgrounds have to send 60% more job applications to get a positive response from employers compared to their white counterparts?
Is it surprising then that black people have the highest unemployment rate of any ethnic group at 9% – more than twice the rate of the white population at 4%?
And even when employed on the railway, at Network Rail, our black colleagues are taking home approximately 10.7% less than the white employees in the organisation?
The 2019 Ethnicity Pay Gap Report released by Network Rail explains that the biggest contributing factor to this statistic is the underrepresentation of black employees in senior roles, with the highest proportion of black employees occupying the bottom 25% of the pay scale.
Network Rail plan to tackle this disparity through a combination of Early Engagement, Mentoring, Cross Organisational Meetings, and a variety of other initiatives as part of their Race Matters campaign.
But there’s something simple you can do to help redress the balance today – Black Pound Day was launched in July as a way for us all to identify more black owned businesses we can support, to encourage growth of the economy in a way that is fairer and more equitable for all.
By paying attention to a problem, and spending a little money, we can balance the scales so it benefits everyone.
This piece was originally written and published in July 2020 for CPMS Group.