Women of colour feel forced to change their behaviour and even their names because they face structural racism in the workplace, according to a report.
Research published by equality think tank the Runnymede Trust and gender equality campaigner the Fawcett Society found that three-quarters of women of colour had experienced some form of racism at work. Its survey of 2,000 women of black and Asian heritage also revealed that just over a quarter faced racial slurs.
One of the key findings of the report was that more than six in 10 felt they needed to hide their identity at work, doing so by modifying their language, hairstyle, clothes or diet in order to fit in with colleagues.
More than half of Muslim and black African women said they had changed the clothes they wore at work. A quarter of those with Indian heritage had changed their name.
Echoing previous research into career opportunities for women and people from ethnic minorities, the survey revealed that 42% felt they had been passed over for promotion.
Racism at work
Around a third of respondents from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian heritage said a manager had actively blocked their progression at work, compared with 20% of white British women.
“Women of colour face a double jeopardy,” said Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust. “From school to the workplace, there are structural barriers standing between them and the opportunities they deserve.
“They know first hand the myth of meritocracy, from the mental gymnastics of constantly code switching to being repeatedly passed up for promotion.”
Runnymede Trust and the Fawcett Society called on the government to set up and back a business-led initiative to tackle ethnicity and gender pay gaps, require salaries to be published on job advertisements and ban salary history questions in interviews.