1 December 2017: 9th Equal@work seminar: Women of colour at work

This seminar explored discrimination in the workplace at the intersection of race and gender. It considered the position of women of colour in our workplaces and in the wider European labour market and developed ways to address their experiences of discrimination, exclusion and inequality.

Women of colour @ work:
Intersectional approaches to diversity management

Friday 1st December 2017, 09:00-16:30

During the last 20 years, the ‘diversity management’ landscape has progressed with employers (public and private), trade unions, political institutions and civil society organisations developing strategies to improve equality and diversity in their workplaces. Most notably, there have been great advances in institutional and corporate diversity policies relating the recruitment and advancement of women in the workplace. Gender equality has become the priority of diversity management, with progressive leaps forward being made in countering discrimination against women, improving representation in leadership, and moving toward equal pay and conditions for women in workplaces across Europe.

But how far do these numerous gender equality and diversity initiatives benefit all women? An emerging critique of diversity policies is that they fail to adequately understand, incorporate and address the specific barriers faced by women of colour (women from racial, ethnic and religious minorities, including but not limited to migrant women) in the workplace. In other words, diversity policies are not intersectional; they fail to address how discrimination and inequality on the basis of gender is experienced with other forms of discrimination, such as racism.

What are the experiences of women of colour in the workplace? The EU expert group on gender equality, social inclusion, health and long-term care (EGGSI) found that women from certain ethnic minorities are more likely to face barriers accessing employment when compared to the men of their communities and that of ethnic majority women. When women of colour do access employment, many experience a range of discrimination relating to their gender, or race, or both. They are likely to be underrepresented in leadership positions and overrepresented in low-pay and precarious work.

The aim of the 9th Equal@work seminar is to explore discrimination in the workplace at the intersection of race and gender. We will consider the position of women of colour in our workplaces and in the wider European labour market. Looking at the particular experiences of discrimination, exclusion and inequality experienced by women of colour, we will ask how existing initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality can benefit women of colour. Where they cannot, we will consider how participants can develop ways to empower women of colour in their workplaces.

Topics to cover:

  • Does the gender diversity focus benefit women of colour at all?
  • What are the specific experiences of discrimination women of colour face in the workplace?
  • Are women of colour disadvantaged in terms of progression, pay and representation in leadership/ management?
  • How can the over-representation of women of colour and migrant women of colour in precarious, low pay professions be addressed?

Read the full concept note
Read the Equal@work Toolkit: Women of colour in the workplace

The Equal@Work Platform is an initiative of ENAR, with the support of the European Commission, the Open Society Foundations, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Adecco Group, Sodexo, L’Oréal and Coca-Cola European Partners.


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