The majority of women of colour in Australia have experienced discrimination in the workplace, despite their workplace having a diversity and inclusion policy in place, a nationwide survey has revealed.
The survey, conducted by Women of Colour Australia (WoCA) in partnership with Murdoch University, revealed that discrimination and racism in the workplace towards women of colour are not impacted by industry, positions or salary.
Many of the 543 women who completed the survey were white-collar workers, with 70% working full-time, and around 30% earning between $100,000 and $149,990.
The survey revealed 60% of respondents have experienced discrimination in the workplace related to their identity. This was despite the workplaces of roughly the same number of respondents — 59% — having a diversity and inclusion policy.
The respondents who reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace cited their top challenges as racism, tokenism, sexism, and a combination of these.
WoCA chair Dr Pilar Kasat noted that, despite the ‘widespread rhetoric’ of diversity and inclusion, women of colour continue to experience disproportionate discrimination and prejudices in the workplace.
“D&I initiatives should explicitly focus on race as well as gender as both combined create specific, unique challenges for women of colour that are too easily overlooked with broad platitudes that seek to advance women’s representation without questioning which women are most likely to benefit,” Kasat said.
Around half of respondents said their organisations provide cultural or diversity training, but only 41% thought it was useful. Just 30% believed their identity as a woman of colour was valued in the workplace.
Only 2% of the respondents said they were their organisation’s leader. Meanwhile, 58% had white males as leaders, 26% had white women, and 7% had a woman of colour.
WoCA was established last year with the aim of championing Australia’s Women of Colour through education programs, community support initiatives, and advocacy work.
Tasneem Chopra, cross cultural consultant and WoCA ambassador, said that while the ‘wins for women of colour in representation in leadership across this country are too few’, WoCA would not wait for a seat at the table.
“WoCA’s response in forming this entity is a bold reply to structural exclusion, affording a safe space for diverse women to set the agenda about what impacts them NOW and further, raise one another in a collective gesture of self care,” Chopra said.