Overlooking people of colour harms not only the people in those communities but businesses as well.
The lost potential that arises from overlooking ethnic minorities over time is staggering, estimated at £24bn a year. In corporate America and corporate Britain, people of colour often do not get promoted within the same period as a White coworker with the same or even less experience would. Employees from minoritised ethnic backgrounds earn significantly less than the average White man would earn for the same work. This discrepancy however is even more prominent for people of the Muslim faith.
A recent report noted the number of Black leaders in FTSE has dropped to zero. The proportion of leaders in the top 3 roles in these companies that come from ethnic minority backgrounds is only 3.4%, the report noted that this figure hasn’t changed since 2014. Muslims especially are underrepresented in top professions compared to the population, with reports referring to a “Muslim penalty” which exists across ethnic groups in the U.K. job market. This means that Muslims who are also people of colour end up experiencing a double disadvantage because of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. Reports note that Muslim men are “76% less likely to have a job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians with equal qualifications”. Overall, as of 2017, fewer than 20% of Muslim adults were employed full-time, while only 6% of Muslims held any sort of higher managerial, administrative, or professional occupation.
Islamophobia, especially towards women, plays a significant role in perpetuating this problem within the U.K. Many reports do not make distinctions between genders in their analyses, which means that the gender discrepancy is often overlooked. Muslim women who wear traditional or religious clothing have reported a perceived negative effect on the outcomes of job interviews. Further, Muslim women are subjected to damaging stereotypical views that hurt their chances of employment. A House of Commons inquiry noted employers assume Muslim women wearing a headscarf will need maternity leave, flexible working schedules, and be uncommitted and unsocial, restricting their employment opportunities. Even when Muslim women were hired, many faced continual stereotyping damaging their career progression.
Discrimination towards Muslims becomes a very high barrier to overcome. More than half of the people in Britain view Muslims as a threat. The widespread Islamophobia in the U.K. exhibiting itself in the British job market does not come as a surprise. More needs to be done in order to counter these negative stereotypes and to provide support for the Muslim community. Corporations need to do more to promote inclusivity, and not fall into the trap of personal biases and ‘hiring to fit’ ideology that often dominates White company culture.
Despite the high boundaries for success for the Muslim community in the U.K., British Muslims still contribute £31bn to the British economy. British corporations and the government need to provide a better environment for not only the Muslim community but also all BAME communities to flourish. A systematic and strategic cross-governmental policy is needed in order to address the failures of corporate Britain towards Muslims.
At JAN Trust we actively work to counter erroneous stereotypes that Muslim and BAME communities face in the U.K. We work specifically with women to provide them with support so they are able to build up themselves and their communities. For more information about our work visit our website here.