Mena’s Story

Mena describes herself as a ‘jack of a few trades’. She is a Purposeful Coach, a Trainer, a Motivational Speaker, a Creative, an Activist, a Black Feminist, an American Footballer, a Lover of Life, and believes your aspirations are completely in your hands. She is passionate about equality, social change and the development of people.

What is the government’s policy towards workplace discrimination?

The Equality Act of 2010 made it illegal to discriminate in the workplace on grounds including gender, colour, nationality, and ethnicity. However, racial and other forms of discrimination is not a thing of the past. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination remain commonplace both in the workplace and in our society.

In the workplace, women work at a huge disadvantage. Women in the UK continue to be underpaid compared to men, even though 64% of high performing companies reported that men and women have equal influence on strategy in their organisations. Yet women in the UK currently earn 19.2% less than men, and more than a quarter of women have experienced some form of gender discrimination in the workplace. In addition, working women feel that maternity leave and having children affect their chances of promotion and excelling in their career. The gender pay gap is even greater for those over 40, and women between 50 and 59 years of age earn 27.3% less than men.  In 2014, the World Economic Forum released a report estimated that it would take 118 years before women achieved economic equality in the workplace.

Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women tend to be even further discriminated against in the workplace. Persistent racial disparity exists in the UK workforce, placing BME women at a disadvantage due to multiple layers of inequality, prejudice and discrimination they face. Facing a ‘double jeopardy’ of oppression for both their race and their gender, unemployment rates for BME women are much higher than for white women. Black workers with a degree earn £14.33 per hour, on average, whereas white workers with a degree earn 30% more, or £18.63 per hour. BME women were more likely than white women to report financial loss, lack of opportunities, loss of status, and decreased job security after having children.

What is the issue with this approach?

Discrimination against women in the workplace takes on various forms .The government must work harder to decrease the gender pay gap and insure women are represented more equally in the workplace. Ending the gender pay gap is critical to ensuring that economic equality is achieved in the UK so that women are able to experience the full extent of economic opportunities that men do.

In addition the government must also tackle workplace discrimination more effectively and create solutions to prevent racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. There should be policies to acknowledge and tackle persistent racial, gender and disability discrimination and bias in the workforce, and companies should be required to report their strategies to ensure equality in recruitment, hiring, and promotions among protected characteristics. The government should also make companies install in-house ethics boards (with a representation quota for BME women, LGBT people, disabled workers) to evaluate discrimination claims.