Majority of women of colour ‘change themselves to fit in’ at work, research finds

New report reveals that 26 per cent of women of colour have changed their hairstyle at work

Olivia Petter
Wednesday 25 May 2022 16:46 BST
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The majority of women of colour feel compelled to change parts of the way they look and behave at work in order to “fit in”, new research has found.

The findings are outlined in a new report conducted by gender equality organisation the Fawcett Society and race equality thinktank, The Runnymede Trust.

For the report, the organisations surveyed 2,000 women of Black and Asian heritage and more than 1,000 white women nationwide.

Among the findings, the research revealed that 61 per cent of women of colour change themselves at work, with 37 per cent changing their language or the words they use.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent said they change their hairstyle and 22 per cent even said they have changed their name.

More than half of Muslim and Black African women surveyed said they had changed the clothes they wore at work.

Meanwhile, a quarter of women with Indian heritage said they had changed their name.

In total, 75 per cent said they had experienced racism at work, with 27 per cent suffering racial slurs.

The report also revealed that such incidences are having an impact on the wellbeing of women of colour, with 39 per cent of those surveyed saying they had been impacted by a lack of progression compared to 2 per cent of white women.

Meanwhile, 42 per cent reported being passed over for promotion despite good feedback (compared to 27 per cent for white women).

As a result of the research, the two organisations are calling for change from employers.

“We want employers to implement effective, evidence-based Anti-Racism Action Plans with clear and measurable targets, and regular monitoring and evaluation of progress,” the report states.

It also calls for “clear and transparent processes for reporting racism, with multiple reporting routes, including options outside of line management structures”.

Additionally, the report recommends having “set structures that ensure line managers deliver equitable and fair promotion outcomes for all employees and make progression routes explicit and well-known rather than based on informal networks”.

As for what the government can do, it suggests setting up and backing a “business-led initiative to tackle ethnicity and gender pay gaps and accelerate change on progression and representation”.

It also advises legislating to ban salary history questions and requiring salaries to be published on job advertisements.

You can read the report in full here.

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