It is fair to say that Saatchi & Saatchi’s 1979 “Labour Isn’t Working” poster for the Conservatives – which featured just 20 members of the Hendon Young Conservatives photographed repeatedly to make the fake snaking line of unemployed people – changed the face of political advertising.
Of course, it has been copied many times to varying degrees of success but non-profit People Like Us is this week trying to make it a game changer once more, by parodying the controversial election poster to raise the alarm on pay inequality faced by ethnic minority workers in the UK.
Gone are the young Tories, replaced by a line of people from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds ‘queuing for a pay rise’, with text highlighting how they are paid an average of 16% less than their white counterparts.
The campaign, devised by agency Media Bounty with media by VCCP, follows the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s major speech last week, in which he stated that creating better-paid jobs and opportunity across the country was a priority for growing the economy.
Ethnicity pay gap reporting has been debated in Parliament over the past two years although there are currently no plans to make it mandatory. The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ report and subsequent ‘Inclusive Britain’ report published in March 2022 recommended that businesses report disparities voluntarily although there have been low levels of uptake.
There have also been joint calls for the Bill from organisations including the Equality and Human Rights Commission, The Trade Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.
In 2022, People Like Us revealed research which shows workers from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds are paid 84% of what their white counterparts earn.
It also found two-thirds (67%) of racially diverse working professionals polled said they have had reason to believe that a white colleague doing the same job as them was on a higher salary. A quarter (24%) said they suspected the disparity in pay was up to £5,000, meaning people of colour could be losing out on £255,000 of earnings in a working lifetime due to the stark racially ethnic pay gap.
Of those from racially diverse backgrounds who struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion, over a quarter (26%) left their industry because they were not given a pay rise they felt they deserved, while half (50%) said not getting a salary increase or promotion has caused them to suffer with anxiety or depression.
Recent research from People Like Us and Censuswide showed professionals surveyed from Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic backgrounds say government support will not see them through the next six months, a rate 7% higher than their white counterparts (52% compared to 45%).
This is causing them to dip into savings at a greater rate, with ethnic minority professionals’ savings declining 1.3 times faster than their white colleagues (falling 16% vs. last year; compared to 13% for white professionals).
Therefore, professionals from racially diverse backgrounds are facing a twofold crunch, in which they are getting too little government support, and will also ‘run out of road’ faster than their white colleagues when it comes to their savings.
People Like Us co-founder Sheeraz Gulsher commented: “Imagine if the Government announced a flat, 16% monthly tax on your entire earnings next week. That is the reality today for Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic employees in the UK. If your skin isn’t white, you can work the same amount and get paid 16% less. It’s a tax on the colour of your skin.
“The most frustrating part is that this isn’t a problem without a solution; since Gender Pay Gap reporting was introduced in 2017, the gender pay gap has decreased – it’s still there, but it’s gradually moving in the right direction as businesses put more action behind equality. We want the same principles to be applied to workers from an ethnic minority background.
“Mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting will allow businesses to have a clear snapshot of how workers are paid, enabling them to address discrimination head-on. Businesses must be held to account publicly and workers deserve to know where they stand in terms of pay.
“As we head towards a recession and the cost of living crisis is hitting lower earners the hardest, we must take this simple step to address disparities and make tangible change in the lives of Black, Asian, Mixed Race and minority ethnic workers in the UK.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Is there anything more depressing than being paid less simply due to the colour of your skin? Mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting is no different from mandatory gender pay gap reporting so you have to ask why they were not brought in at the same time.
The Conservatives have made a great play on how they are the first party to have a Prime Minister from an ethnic background…whether they will do anything to help people of colour is another matter.
But, if not now, when?
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “rallying cry for action” 9 out of 10