Low pay disproportionately affects Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers

The recent killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests have been a watershed moment across the world, and a reminder of the scale and depth of structural racism against Black people in our society.

Low pay, and pay inequality, is just one of the myriad ways in which structural racism is evident, but its effects are stark. Our own research conducted with the New Economics Foundation, and published this week, shows that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers are still more likely to be in low paid and insecure work than White workers. 18% of BAME workers are in low paid and insecure work - such as having too few hours, zero hours contracts, or short notice of shift patterns, compared to just 15% of white workers. It shows little has changed in the last 20 years. 

Low pay isn't just about struggling to make ends meet - it means physical and mental stress and ill-health, the erosion of family life, and the daily battle to put food on the table. It means a life without security and stability and difficulty planning for the future. These are the effects of poverty and they disproportionately affect Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers.

In recent weeks the Living Wage Foundation has supported the Citizens UK campaign for key workers to be paid a real Living Wage. Many of the roles that have proven so essential during the Covid-19 pandemic like social care, cleaning and security work have a large proportion of BAME workers. These roles have always been vital, but during the crisis they have carried even greater threats - six in ten UK health workers killed by Covid-19 are BAME. Low pay and poverty are among a range of social factors that are linked to worse health outcomes and higher death rates among BAME communities.

It's clear that paying a real Living Wage cannot end structural racism, but tackling low pay and pay inequality is one of many necessary steps we must take to tackle the injustices Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people face.

It is important that we continue to listen and learn but we must all also act. The Living Wage Foundation supports Black Lives Matter and stands in solidarity with Black communities and all those who are unjustly treated on account of their race or ethnicity. We will redouble our efforts to tackle structural racism and stand up for fair pay.

For more information on actions we are taking internally please see here.