Women of colour in Australia are facing considerable barriers at work including patent discrimination according to new research.
A national survey of more than 500 women conducted by Women of Colour Australia (WoCA) in partnership with Murdoch University revealed that many women of colour who are impacted by discrimination and racism in the workplaces are professional office workers, with 70 per cent in full time positions and a third earning over $100,000.
Interestingly, 2 per cent of respondents surveyed were their organisation’s leaders, 58 per cent had white males as leaders, 26 per cent had Caucasian women leaders with a striking 7 percent reporting their leader as a woman of colour.
While issues surrounding gender equality in the workplace have been well documented, there seems to be a lack of research into the intersectionality of a women’s experience and their cultural background and ethnicity.
Dr Pilar Kasat, Chairwomen of Australia’ of WoCA commented, “Our research clearly illustrates that women of colour continue to experience disproportionate discrimination and prejudices in the workplaces despite the widespread rhetoric of diversity and inclusion”.
Women of Colour Australia, established in 2020 is a not-for-profit organisation that has emerged from “the need to create a space that represents and speaks for the unique experiences of women of colour in contemporary Australia”, says Brenda Gaddi, Founder and Managing Director of WoCA.
The organisation aims to champion women of diverse cultural backgrounds through tailored programs, community support initiatives and advocacy work.
Only 2 out of 10 women felt that they had not faced challenges in the workplace related to their identity as a WoC, with another 19 per cent who were uncertain.
Further to this uncertainty, a third of these women were unsure about how they would be received if they were to raise issues relation to their cultural identity in the workplace. Another third would not bring forward the subject, with just over a third who felt they would be heard and respected.
With just under half of respondents saying their organisations provide cultural/diversity training, only 41 percent felt it was useful, with 24 per cent who did not and 34 per cent who were again unsure. Rather, many women named ‘mentoring’ as a key need for future development in their careers.
Out of the total of 543 women of colour of completed the survey, 7 per cent identified as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
“Women of Colour is a much-needed organisation right now as Australians are waking up to the injustices experienced by First Nations women, Black and Brown women.
WoCA clearly understands that building communities of resistance is an important step towards achieving racial justice”, says Managing Director of All Together Now, Priscilla Brice.