I’m struggling right now to know what to do. I’ve just joined the Women’s Equality Party BAME Caucus as an ally. I’ve donated to more causes and recommended books to friends (for anyone reading this, please buy a copy of Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga) but I also think that a lot of what we’re doing right now will be like tear gas in the wind.
So, how to advocate for more impactful change?
Being frank, I have no idea. But the first tiny step I’ve taken is to write a letter to the Women & Equalities Select Committee, and I’ll be following it up by writing to my MP as well.
Dear Women & Equalities Select Committee,
I am a member of the Women’s Equality Party and have been politically engaged on women’s issues for a number of years now.
Though our work is not yet done I believe there is an even more pressing issue we need to address.
I have been watching current events unfold with increasing helplessness and despair.
I don’t believe that we as a nation are doing enough to protect Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups, and to ensure that they have the same freedoms and opportunities that others are offered. As a white person I know that I’m part of the problem.
I would like to ask the Women & Equalities Select Committee to advocate for introducing ethnicity pay gap reporting similar to the gender pay gap legislation we currently benefit from. I think we should all be making ourselves accountable on the issue of discrimination based on ethnicity.
Though we already have access to some level of data through the Office for National Statistics this is simply not enough to accelerate change and does not currently hold businesses to account for their inaction. For example, London – where I live – has the largest pay gap, with ethnic minority groups earning 21.7% less than white employees on average.
I believe this is a pressing issue – though only a small piece of the change we should all be making – and I hope that it is something you can investigate and recommend.
Finally, thank you for your current investigation into ‘Unequal impact: Coronavirus (Covid-19) and the impact on people with protected characteristics’. I hope that your findings will be released as a matter of urgency.
Anyone who has read my Feminist Fact Friday series will know that, unfortunately, gender pay gap reporting has thus far done little to spur companies to action. Rather, they seem to compare themselves to others and say ‘well, at least we’re not as bad as those guys’.
I don’t doubt that this will follow a similar course, but it will lead to greater proof, scrutiny and evidence than has been in the public eye until recently. There are many companies out there who have changed their social media handles/pictures, or released bland statements like the brilliant one below – but very few have followed Glossier’s lead in putting their money where their mouth is.
Many of those businesses who are purporting to support the Black Lives Matter movement have zero to few Black people and people of colour in senior positions in their company. This needs to change.
If you’re stuck on where to put your energy right now:
- Write to your MP – make your voice heard
- Please go back and read my post on Trying to find hope
- Also read this piece from Benish Shah on How to Talk Trauma & Protests at Work. The (very non-definitive) Guidelines.
- Follow up by buying a ton of books from your local, independent bookshop (or Amazon if you have to), starting with the Antiracist Reading List from the New York Times
- As always, join the Women’s Equality Party – the first ever political party in the UK to be headed up by a person of colour, in this case the brilliant Mandu Reid
- Read the Equality & Human Rights Commission’s ‘Research report 108: the ethnicity pay gap’ to understand why ethnicity pay gap reporting is important.