The ethnicity pay gap: What it is and how to take action

Written by Sonia Sharma-Karia Tuesday 17 October 2023
Ethnicity pay gap reporting isn't given as much airtime as the gender pay gap, but it is just as important
Two men of different ethnicities stood next to unequal piles of money

What is the ethnicity pay gap?

As the UK workforce becomes increasingly diverse, data shows that there are huge disparities in gross earnings between ethnic groups. 

In the UK, the ethnicity pay gap (EPG) describes the difference in median hourly earnings between White British employees and other ethnic groups.

It’s important to note that a pay gap is not the same as pay equality:

  • Pay gap: the percentage difference in median average hourly earnings between the reference group (in the UK, this is usually White British employees) and another ethnic group.
  • Equal pay: the pay difference between workers in roles that are substantially equal.

How big is the ethnicity pay gap? The statistics

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) are from 2019. They compare the wages of 17 ethnic groups. The EPG across all surveyed ethnicities was 2.3%, down from 5.1% in 2012.

In January 2024, People Like Us, in partnership with Censuswide, reported that ethnically diverse professionals in the UK are 38% more likely to experience underpayment than their white counterparts at the same career level. Furthermore, 47% of ethnically diverse professionals feel that they are being underpaid in comparison to their white colleagues, which on average leads to a financial loss of almost £2,000.

Want to learn more about the ethnicity pay gap and how you can take action?


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