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Ethnic minorities climb the ranks



London

From our correspondent

When Boris Johnson formed his first government, in July 2019, he assigned two of the three main ministerial portfolios to politicians from ethnic minorities, namely Sajid Javid and Priti Patel, respectively Chancellor of the Exchequer and Minister of the Exchequer. inside. It hasn’t caused much ink to flow. As if these appointments were usual. Yet they were historic.

This development was prompted by former Prime Minister David Cameron. Upon his arrival at the head of the Conservative Party in 2005, he decided to radically change its image, still perceived as the “wicked party” (nasty party). In particular, it established a list of priority applicants: women, and men and women from ethnic minorities. This list served as a reservoir from which the constituencies had to draw to choose their candidates.

While only two non-white MPs sat in the Conservative ranks in 2005, compared to 13 in Labor, their number has steadily increased: they are now 22 among the Conservatives, 41 among Labor and two among the Liberals. democrats. However, a report published by Parliament in October 2020 recalls that it would take 28 more for the House of Commons to be representative of the British population, which has 14.4% of inhabitants from ethnic minorities (1).

“Some people see the glass half empty in this situation, I see the glass half full”, explains sociology professor Tariq Modood, director of the University of Bristol’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship. “You have to look at the change over time. The trend is clearly positive, with a reduction in discrimination against ethnic minorities and racism. “

The professor points to the proportion of young people accepted at university. During the 2018-2019 year, whites represented 75% of new students. But the share of 18-year-olds who entered university was 30.3% among whites, 44.5% among blacks, 50.3% for Asians (mainly Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis) and 68% among the Chinese.

In contrast, ethnic minorities are under-represented in top UK universities. Labor MP David Lammy, himself of Guyanese origin, has campaigned for several years on opening up Oxford and Cambridge to ethnic and social diversity.

However, the gap between whites and ethnic minorities is narrowing from year to year. There is therefore no doubt that their representation will progress in all the leading spheres of society. Whether in politics, in the business world but also higher education. Tariq Modood points out, however, that discrimination has not ended. “Before, people from ethnic minorities were excluded from important positions. Now they have to be more qualified than their white counterparts to be appointed or hired. “

The government has taken one more step. After having forced companies to release figures on pay differences between men and women since 2017, he seeks to push employers to expose pay differences by ethnicity. Nothing concrete for the moment, but the authorities launched in October 2017 a website gathering such statistics. We can see that white Britons are paid on average between 15% and 16% more than their fellow citizens of Pakistani, African and Bangladeshi origin, but 23% less than those of Chinese origin and 16% less than those of Indian origin. Gaps which testify to very different realities between minorities.

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