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Whitepaper 'BAME Representation in the Workplace': BAME and Gender: where discrimination deepens

Rebekah Valero-Lee morson news

Image 2021 03 12 T08 29 43

In modern day workplaces, diversity centres upon a company’s ability to attract and retain specific hard to reach groups. They are often those who have experienced discrimination or faced barriers between them and employment opportunities.

True ED&I is achieving an understanding of the challenges that these groups face on a regular basis, and using that knowledge to eliminate obstacles and provide a realistic pathway to the positive opportunities they could present to themselves and the organisations they work for if those experiences were taken away.

Though we sought to hear personal experiences from representatives of a variety of minority groups – determined based on their background, sex, race and more – the outcomes have indicated that while colleagues from BAME groups face significant challenges, so too do those who identify as female or transgender. And for females and transgender individuals from BAME backgrounds, the discrimination deepens further.

Individuals identifying as female

More women are employed today than at any time in history, yet females continue to encounter significant barriers. In addition to the gender pay gap, which sees men often earning more than female counterparts in the same role, women only make up a small minority of CEOs and board members.

Looking beyond pay and gender balance, women also face issues of bias and harassment, with clear examples highlighted in our survey. Specific instances cited include:

“I was bypassed for a promotion opportunity after being told that as I had just got married, I would therefore have children and soon be off work.”

“I experienced sexism from an older Senior Manager who said women are better out in the field ‘showing leg’ than working in the office.”

“I was threatened, on more than one occasion, by a male superior who must have felt threatened by me.”

“There was a lack of facilities for female engineers, such as places to put lockers, together with a lack of variety in women's clothing sizes that were available for my role.”

“Returning to work on a part-time basis due to childcare commitments and receiving negative comments from management and full-time colleagues about leaving the office early, having an 'easy life' and being a 'part-timer'.”


Further complications arise in STEM-related fields – which are historically occupied by males and therefore most at risk of unconscious bias showing preference towards male colleagues – and when we consider the likelihood of discrimination against BAME females.

Percentage who have experienced discrimination in the workplace (current or previous role)

BAME participants

Non BAME participants

Female 55%

Female 34%

Male 47%

Male 25%



Individuals identifying as transgender

LGBTQ+ workers continue to experience discrimination in the workplace and care is needed when developing ED&I strategies specific to this group, with transgender workers, for example, facing different experiences, interests, challenges and discrimination even when compared to gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals.

In relation to our research, 100 per cent of transgender males surveyed said knowing that an industry is renowned for discrimination against certain demographics – including gender or sexuality – would put them off applying for a role. Furthermore, this audience segment was most likely to report challenges with sourcing and securing roles in technical sectors; this is compared with 43 per cent of those identifying as male who said finding work in their chosen sector is ‘easy’.

Responses from our research detailed experiences where homophobic or transphobic discrimination was so severe, the individuals felt little choice other than to leave their posts.

“I am often embarrassed by staff who feel that searching people of my own gender must be enjoyable just because I am gay. Although I am gay, searching individuals of my own gender is definitely not a sexually enjoyable experience. I don’t know why some people think it would be.”

Eradicating these issues in the workplace doesn’t just deliver huge benefits for the individual, but also for business. In the US, a report by Out Now titled ‘LGBT 2020 – LGBT Diversity Show Me the Business Case ’ found that the US economy could save $9 billion annually if organisations implemented more effective inclusion policies for their LGBTQ+ staff. A large amount of this came from a reduction in absence from work caused by the stress and ill-health associated with LGBTQ+ staff who felt the need to hide their identity at work at the risk of experiencing discrimination.

As of 2018, 93% per cent of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination policies, which include advice on sexual orientation. 85 percent of these non-discrimination policies have a section dedicated to gender identity.

Download your copy of the full whitepaper here: