BME profiles: working life

What is the project?

I am starting a project on BME experiences at work. I was fortunate to have attended a BME Stepping Up Programme a year or so ago. I met people who were dedicated to their jobs. What I also found was that many of us were in need of examples of experiences in the workplace to counteract the negative assumptions, terminology and daily interactions that we are subjected to as BME people living in Western economies.

The project is to highlight the everyday working life of BME people – the stories considered ‘too small’ to be covered by media outlets, but are crucial to inform our communities and ourselves on our daily endeavours. These are no more or no less important than the stories of others. In fact, our everyday stories are more relatable to a wider number of people regardless of socio-economic background.

Why did I start this project?

Many times BME people are told that the reason we can’t/don’t progress at work is because we lack experience, we lack qualifications, we lack drive, etc. We continually need to justify our right to earn a fair wage and a fair living. Statistics and research show that:

  1. The majority of BME graduates are still paid much less than their white counterparts in every industry sector and every public sector organisation in the UK.
  2. The number of BME students applying to medical school has continued to rise, but the number able to secure a place, even with similar qualifications, has continued to fall.
  3. BME staff have a higher prevalence of having to start again in a new workplace, in new job, because they are less likely to be offered opportunities for progression and more likely to experience routine and regular racial harassment and discrimination. So, BME people have to start again in a new place/new team, with the possibility of facing the same barriers.
  4. It is hard to keep spirits up when we get more negative feedback than positive encouragement and are undermined whenever we try to achieve something. In fact research shows that, for some of us, it contributes to depression, impaired mental health and in some cases PTSD.

The scope of the project

My project will specifically contest this false view of BME career goals and motivations. I have asked BME people to step forward from the healthcare sector and beyond to talk about their careers, motivations and achievements. I will start publishing profiles in April 2019. I aim to keep the project going as long as I can. Over 94% of people who work in documenting history in the UK are white – and BME histories continue to be overlooked or, if they are recorded, they are highly selective in content. This is just a small attempt to change things and challenge normative assumptions about BME achievements and endeavours in UK workplaces.

With thanks to my BME Stepping Up Group cohort who have been supportive, inspiring and always kind.

If you would like to participate or find out more, please use the contact form.

References

BMA (2009) Equality and Diversity in UK Medical Schools

Annez, E (2007) Asian Doctors in the NHS, British Journal of General Practice Oct 1; 57(543): 827–834.

John, T (2018) Equality Lens – A life in medicine, BMA

Press Association, Black workers’ pay gap in UK widens with qualifications, The Guardian, 2016

Adams, R. (2018) UK Universities and pay disparity, The Guardian

(For a full list of references please contact me directly.)

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