A graphic for the research summary on Broken Ladders

A Summary of the Pay and Progression Gaps for Women of Colour


The leading British research and campaigning charities, The Fawcett Society and The Runnymede Trust produced this report in partnership. The former focuses on gender equality and the latter tackles racism. Between them, they have produced extensive research cited in academic journals such as ‘Gender, Work & Organisation’ around the Gender Pay Gap (GPG), and the comprehensive ‘Pay and Progression of Women of Colour Literature Review’. Alongside this report, this is a useful tool for examining the experiences of women of colour in professional environments. A list of key resources is included at the end of report.  

Summary and Methodology 

This study was conducted by using a wide range of methods, including surveys, events, interviews and focus groups, involving more than 3000 women of colour. It explores the reasons behind the pay and progression gaps for women of colour and makes recommendations for employers, governments, unions, universities and self-employed women. The 108-page report addresses various stages of women’s careers, from first joining the workforce to leadership. 

Women’s Experiences  

  • 75% of women of colour have experienced racism in the workplace, ranging from so called ‘banter’ to microaggressions and racial slurs.  
  • Almost 2/3 of women of colour (61%) have performed Code Switching – changing something about themselves – including their name, hairstyle and what they eat to fit in at work.  
  • Along with Sticky Floors, the Double Bind and Glass  Ceilings, 28% of women reported that their progression at work had been blocked by a manager – barrier bosses – (compared to 19% of white women), and 27% of women of colour have been told they lack leadership qualities. 

Organisations are at risk of driving away, demotivating, and losing talented women of colour: 

  • 18% of women of colour search for an organisation’s ethnic diversity information (compared to 7% of white women).  
  • In spite of positive performance evaluations from managers, 42% of women of colour revealed being overlooked in opportunities to progress (compared to 27% of white women). Of these, 43% reported this resulted in them feeling unmotivated and 38% felt it had impacted their wellbeing. 
  • 45% said that facing racism in the workplace had impacted their desire to stay at the organisation ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’.

Recommendations for Employers include taking action on: 

Recruitment Bias: make job adverts inclusive through salary and role description transparency, alongside offering flexible working. Anonymise CVs, use honest and representative interview panels, offer guidance on applicant expectations and adhere to transparent recruitment practices. 

Progression Bias: draw up fair and transparent progression routes, use 360 appraisals, and link manager’s targets to organisational diversity and inclusion targets for retention and progression.  

Training & Development: track training budgets and create mentor and sponsor opportunities. 

Monitoring Culture: Develop an Anti-Racism Action Plan, produce ethnicity and GPG reports, segment ethnicity groups for a clear picture of employee’s needs and publish externally, create policies for reporting racism, and sign the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter. For women in leadership positions, particularly, offering ‘stay interviews’ to provide a safe space to talk about their career experiences in relation to race and gender.  

To find out more about the key concepts referenced in this summary, visit:

Gender Pay Gap (GPG)

Sticky Floors

The Double Bind

Glass Ceilings

Click here to learn more about Inclusive Leadership: Intro to Developing Inclusive Leaders