More than a third of workers from ethnic minorities have kept their career choice a secret due to family or cultural expectations, according to a survey commissioned by Samsung UK & Ireland.
The poll of more than 1,500 employees found that ethnic minority groups feel the pressure twice as much as white counterparts when choosing a career. Arab or black workers were most likely to keep their career choice secret, with 61% of Arab workers likely to lie.
Becoming a doctor, lawyer or accountant were the most “accepted” career choices, according to Samsung’s survey, while fitness trainer was the least acceptable.
When family pressure was taken away, the top career choices were the services industry (17%) or creative industries (13%).
People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more than twice as likely to feel cultural pressure to choose the right career, with 70% saying this was the case compared to 31% of white workers.
Race at work
Workers from all groups felt that family members placed pressure on them to make decisions about a suitable career, with 50% claiming their mother put pressure on them and 51% their father.
Almost four in 10 respondents (39%) from ethnic minorities said they feel controlled in their choices, and 38% lacked confidence. Twenty-eight percent felt unfulfilled when told what job or career path they should pursue.
The research also uncovered incidents of both unconscious and blatant racism at work. A third of ethnic minority workers said they have experienced blatant racism, rising to 46% for Arab workers and 44% for black workers.
Ethnic minority workers also felt under pressure to adapt their personality to fit in at work, with 66% of black workers changing their behaviour.
Forty-three percent of black workers felt they were expected to produce a higher standard of work, while 41% of Arab workers took on work outside of their job role to meet these expectations, Samsung found.
Dave Thompson, head of training at Samsung UK & Ireland, said: “If we are to break down the barriers to open doors to careers outside of medicine, finance and law, and see more professions as viable and celebrated career options, there must be acknowledgment from industries to help shift perceptions such as those from ethnic minorities – and their families.”
“If we want everyone to bring their authentic selves to work and thrive in their jobs, we must take steps to not only understand, but also challenge the current state of play. Workplaces can help by building out sustainable careers across their business, subsidiaries and strategic partners to ensure the best practices are in place to drive equity, diversity and belonging at the centre of everything they do.”
Marvyn Harrison, founder of Dope Black Dads and inclusion agency BELOVD, said there was a “generational issue” around cultural career expectations.
“From my own experience, black families specifically have stopped believing their children will have equality without creating a perceived value in their career,” he said.
“This prevents a diversification of the types of roles people commit to at the highest level, and an important sense of belonging once they get there. The impact of this mental load means Black employees are not showing up as their full self and experiencing imposter syndrome which prevents them from excelling and progressing at the rate their talent deserves.
“We need a generational shift of all races and ethnicities pursuing roles which suit their passions and consider their neurodiversity, mental health, class, gender, religion and sexuality, as well as being fully accepted for who they are.”