01/15/23 | Workplace

The ethnicity pay gap

We see in many organisations a rich and diverse population within the workforce at junior levels but then depleting numbers as you move up in seniority. 😕

I find the conversation around pay gaps so interesting; it was only a few years ago, after a conversation with reward specialist and good friend Ruth, that I even realised the difference between pay gaps and equal pay.

Yesterday was Ethnicity Pay Day, marked to recognise the inequalities of pay for ethnic minorities. In 2017 The UK was one of the first countries to introduce gender pay gap reporting, requiring 9,000 employers to publish their gender pay gap.

The UK government mandated companies with 250 or more employees to report the Gender pay gaps, but like most things, this was looked at through one dimension, Gender, not acknowledging the intersections within Gender, thus not acknowledging the wider pay gap you have for women of colour.

To be clear, the ethnicity pay gap refers to the difference in the average pay between an employee from an ethnic minority background, compared to a ‘white’ employee.

Like Gender, ethnicity pay gaps are driven by a lack of ethnic representation at senior grades. The intersection between gender and ethnicity means that black women have the most significant pay gaps compared to white men.

Closing the ethnicity pay gap is not just one person’s job – we all have a role to play. It takes intention and focus from everybody involved, and it can’t be achieved unless we all work together.

Organisations and boards:

  • Hold leaders accountable for the specific representation gaps within their teams
  • Ensure the infrastructure is in place to acquire data and promote transparency
  • Set a precedent and expectation of equity in hiring processes and promotions
  • Ensure the board and Exco reflect the targets of the organisation
  • Be relentless in your ambition to drive inclusion and close the gender and ethnicity gap
  • Recruit a DEI NED to hold your board and CEO accountable


  • Review your team’s pay, ask questions, and seek out equity when dealing with pay offers
  • Be a sponsor! If you are in a senior position, look around the table, and challenge why there are not more senior leaders of colour around your table.
  • Actively seek out talent, network with diverse groups, join forums, and increase your social capital


  • Get the data
  • Challenge your business
  • Ask questions
  • Bid for a higher pay increase to level the playing field
  • Challenge promotion lists, build diverse pipelines
  • Offer diverse candidates interview support

Diverse professionals:

  • Put yourself forward for promotions
  • Seek out sponsors
  • Invest in your personal development
  • Work on your CV and interview skills
  • Use your life experience to demonstrate your leadership and project management abilities
  • Negotiate salary offers with research and evidence

We have made progress, but there is more to be done! 🤷🏾‍♀️

This piece originally appeared on LinkedIn and was published here with permission.

Hannah Awonuga

Hannah Awonuga

Hannah Awonuga is the Global Director, Head of Colleague Engagement within the Group DEI function at Barclays Bank. Hannah has been working in banking since she was 17yrs old, and for the past 11yrs has spent time leading remote teams in the retail bank, business and corporate bank before transitioning into Diversity and Inclusion. Hannah attributes her achievements in banking to her humble beginnings, caused to live independently since the age of 15, socioeconomic inclusion is a topic very close and personal to her. Hannah Awonuga is also a multi-award winning DEI thought leader and speaker; over the past two years, she won 2021 WeAreTheCity rising star award, was named amongst the 2021/2022 most inspirational D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) professionals by D&I leaders and was listed in the 2021 Top 25 most influential DEI practitioners by HR Magazine. She has recently been appointed as a non-executive director for the UK government membership body Progress Together which has been set up to increase socioeconomic diversity at senior leadership level across the UK financial services. Hannah Awonuga is the Founder of Rarity London Inclusion and Development services: Hannah is a passionate and knowledgeable speaker and facilitator who is experienced in delivering inclusive leadership workshops, keynote addresses, holds senior executive safe space conversations and frequently joins international panel discussions with industry leaders.

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