Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Finance & Innovation

This Is How Much Less a Black Person Will Earn in the UK Than a White Colleague


Revise for exams. Get to university. Work weekends.

Eat, sleep, save, repeat. It’s the oldest British lullaby and the bedrock of the narcoleptic American dream. Put in the hard graft and you’ll make it, we’re told, no matter who you are or where you come from.

But if you’re black and British, a new report suggests that it’s quite the opposite. 

The report from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has suggested that black workers are paid far less than their white colleagues with equal qualifications in the UK. British black people without qualifications are paid 5% less than white workers. But for those with A-levels, expect £1.20 less an hour – a whopping 10% undercut – while GCSE student leavers face a 12% slash.

Completed a degree? Black graduates will lose out on 14% of white earnings and more than £2.63 an hour. Earned a diploma? It gets even worse, as pay drops by £2.98 an hour, or 20% less.

The ethnic pay gap doesn’t get appropriate airtime. When the BBC controversially published their biggest salaries in July, the gender pay gap took the headlines. While certainly worthy of attention, there was a vital omission: intersectionality.

No woman made the top seven highest earners. But there was not a single black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) star within the top 15 – and not a single presenter at the BBC World Service earned more than £50,000.

“In light of the revelations of the gender pay gap at the BBC, much more focus needs to be paid to the pay gap not only between men and women but also between races,” wrote MP Rushanara Ali in a blog post on the Labour Party’s Progress website.

The latest report follows a study earlier this month, conducted by the Resolution Foundation thinktank, that found ethnic minority families earned as much as £8,900 less than their white British counterparts.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani families earn as much as a third less, while black African families lose out on approximately a fifth. This is all despite evidence from the Social Mobility Commision that reported that British Asians perform better in school.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has previously called the ethnic pay gap “an injustice which cannot be allowed in 21st century Britain.” In the Conservative election manifesto, May pledged to make businesses over a certain size publish ethnic pay data. Perhaps progress is on the march after all?

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including Global Goal No. 10 for Reduced Inequalities. You can take action here