"Britain is a long way from offering a level playing field to non-white groups"
There is growing evidence that British Asians from South Asian communities struggle for the top jobs, despite achieving better results academically.
They are outperforming their white counterparts in education but still missing out on jobs which they are clearly qualified for.
It has been shown that they repeatedly miss out on the top managerial and professional positions which should be available to everyone. So why is this happening?
Several studies have been carried out to try and understand what factors might be contributing to this claim and what action could be taken to ensure some kind of equality.
The Centre Forum study confirms this. It also states that British Asians are academically ahead by the time they sit their GCSEs at the age of 16.
The Social Mobility Commission study says otherwise. It says that young people from Asian Muslim communities are more likely to be without jobs than their white peers.
British Asians do well in Education but not in Top Jobs
The ability to move from one social status to another should depend largely on the progress made in education.
This is called social mobility, where movement through the social strata is possible both upwards and downwards.
Upward mobility can be achieved, for instance, by someone who becomes a doctor but whose father was a labourer.
The Social Mobility study found evidence which contradicts this.
The study says that children of Pakistani origin in Britain are doing well in education. They had outperformed other ethnic groups in making significant improvements in their education.
Despite this, the chances of them being given the top managerial or professional jobs were still very slim.
Alan Milburn who was a Labour Party MP until 2010 was also the Chairman of the Social Mobility Commission. He says: “The British social mobility promise is that hard work will be rewarded”.
Mr Milburn further comments that: “this research suggests that promise is being broken for too many people in our society.”
It is “striking that people who were making the greatest advances at school were still missing out in the workplace.”
The report further suggests that young people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds should have more chance of succeeding now, more than ever.
They are doing well in GCSEs and A Levels; as well as going on to university.
However, this is not so evident in the labour market where social immobility is more apparent than social mobility.
The Centre Forum also found that white British pupils made less progress through primary and secondary school. Chinese and Indian children did better than other ethnic groups.
Discrimination in the Workplace
One of the main reasons for the lack of social mobility within some groups is discrimination in the workplace. This still exists despite attempts to ensure equal opportunities for diverse applicants.
The Social Mobility Commission found that workplace discrimination has a big part to play in certain ethnic groups being denied the top jobs.
The Equality Act 2010 brought together and merged over 116 pieces of legislation into one single Act.
The aim of this was to make it easier to legislate and protect individuals from unfair treatment.
Hence, the equal opportunities monitoring form is a legal requirement for all employers.
It implies that the company or business is showing a commitment to treat all employees and applicants fairly. This means treatment must be equal and without prejudice.
How far is this actually true?
Whilst British Asians of South Asian descent struggle for the top jobs, it would seem that employers have a part to play in this.
The discrimination against ethnic groups is even more apparent towards Muslim women. Workplace discrimination plays a big part in this.
Mr Milburn admitted that: “Britain is a long way from offering a level playing field to non-white groups.”
He says that urgent action is needed to break down the barriers.
“Britain is a,”deeply divided nation” with divisions running along lines of, “class, income, gender, and race”.
It states that there is a”broken mobility promise for Asian Muslims, particularly women”.
The research did not highlight the specific factors behind these inequalities. Bart Shaw, the lead author of the report says that further investigation is needed.
British Asian Women have the Greatest Handicap
British Asian women of South Asian backgrounds have a definite disadvantage when it comes to securing the top positions at work.
However, this does not appear to apply to all British Asian women. It seems that Bangladeshi and Pakistani women have the greatest handicap.
In 2016, a study was carried out by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.
It bought to light the disparity between British ethnic minority graduates and their white peers.
The study looked at data from the Destination of Leavers of Higher Education survey. They found that white British graduates stand a far better chance of employment than ethnic minority graduates.
This was true despite them being from similar backgrounds with similar opportunities and qualifications.
The findings raise serious questions about the struggle that ethnic minority groups face in building successful careers.
The study reveals that most ethnic minority groups in Britain are highly educated and likely to attend university.
This makes it even harder to understand why they would not be able to reach the top positions and make a successful career for themselves.
Wouter Zwysen and Simonetta Longhi are the authors of the study. They believe this will have a damaging effect on earnings potential as the graduates get older.
Zwysen also makes a statement about the situation three and a half years following graduation.
“Some ethnic minority female graduates are earning 12% to 15% less than white British graduates”.
In contrast to this, Indian and Chinese graduates show better prospects when applying for jobs. Their representation in the workplace is much fairer.
These women also seem to stand a better chance of having successful careers and securing the top positions.
What’s in a Name?
Exactly how important or significant is a person’s name when applying for jobs?
It would seem that some employers make their decisions based solely on the name that appears on a CV.
A test carried out by BBC Inside Out London reveals shocking information. A job seeker with a Muslim name has three times fewer chances of an interview than someone with an English-speaking name.
Inside Out London sent CVs from two applicants called ‘Mohammed’ and ‘Adam’. They both had similar qualifications and experience.
These fake candidates applied for 100 managerial jobs in advertising sales in London. Mohammed had an offer of four interviews while Adam had a total of twelve.
The study is a small sample size. Nevertheless, it still confirms that British Muslims are significantly under-represented in the top positions.
Professor Tariq Modood from the University of Bristol tells his own story. He explains his anger and frustration.
“I had a student job where the employer looked at my name. He said ‘Oh, that won’t do, introduce yourself as Terry Miles’ or something similar. I was very unhappy to do so.”
Mr. Madood said he wouldn’t willingly change his name: “I’ve even given my daughters Pakistani or Muslim names”.
He explains he did this even though it could hurt their chances of looking for work.
This article shows how some British Asians struggle to find employment they are qualified for.
Educational attainment has improved significantly for all ethnic groups. Pakistani and Bangladeshi students have shown the most improvement. The job situation, however, does not reflect this.
The Equality Act 2010 aims to end discrimination in the workplace. This will only happen if all candidates have equal and fair treatment.
In reality, this is not true. We are still a very long way from eradicating total discrimination in employment.