Women Of Colour Are Still Victim To Discrimination In The Workplace

Emeric Brard
on 28 June 2021

A recent survey has shown that over 500 women of colour in Australia have experienced discrimination in the workplace despite the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) policies being in place. 

Even with over half of respondents claiming that their workplace has a D&I policy in place, 60% have still experienced discrimination. Why?

According to the survey results, this discrimination is not impacted by industry, positions or salary. 2% of respondents were leaders of their organisation, 58% said their leaders were white males, 26% had white women as leaders, and 7% were women of colour. 

So, what were the top challenges women of colour faced?

  • Racism
  • Tokenism
  • Sexism
  • And a combination of the above three

“Our research clearly illustrates that women of colour continue to experience disproportionate discrimination and prejudices in the workplace despite the widespread rhetoric of diversity and inclusion. D&I initiatives should explicitly focus on race as well as gender as both combined create specific, unique challenges for women of colour that are too easily overlooked with broad platitudes that seek to advance women’s representation without questioning which women are most likely to benefit,” said Dr Pilar Kasat, Chairwoman of Women of Colour Australia.

Main findings from the study:

Women of colour

  • 6 in 10 women of colour felt they had faced challenges in the workplace related to their identity as a woman of colour, while 21% do not believe so and the remainder answered “maybe”
  • Close to half (48%) the respondents said their organisations provides cultural/diversity training but only 41% felt it was useful, 24% did not and 34% answered “unsure”
  • While 30% believed their identity as a woman of colour was valued in the workplace, 43% did not, and the remainder answered “maybe”
  • While close to 60% said their workplace had a diversity and inclusion policy, 22% said it did not and the remainder were unsure
  • 36% felt they would be heard and respected if they were to raise issues relating to their cultural identity in the workplace, while 32% said they wouldn’t and 33% were unsure
  • Many of the women named ‘mentoring’ as a key need for future development in their careers
  • A total of 543 women of colour completed the survey, with 7% identifying as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

“At Women of Colour Australia we are not waiting for a seat at the table – we’re building our own. The wins for women of colour in representation in leadership across this country are too few, and the efforts to be heard are frequently exhausting,” said Tasneem Chopra OAM, Cross Cultural Consultant and WoCA Ambassador.

About Women of Colour Australia

Women of Colour Australia
Founder and Managing Director, Brenda Gaddi

Founded in 2020, Women of Colour Australia is a non-profit organisation run by women of colour for women of colour. WoCA aims to champion Australia’s Women of Colour through tailored education programs, community support initiatives, and advocacy work.

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