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More than half of culturally diverse women have experienced discrimination at work

A nationwide survey of women of diverse cultural backgrounds has found that 60 per cent have experienced discrimination at work related to their identity.

Those women cited racism, tokenism and sexism as the main challenges.

Many of the women surveyed were professional office workers with 70 per cent in full-time positions and almost a third earning more than $100,000.

Two per cent of them were the head of their organisation, while 58 per cent had a Caucasian male leader, 26 per cent had a Caucasian woman at the helm and seven per cent reported their boss was a woman of colour.

In about 60 per cent of cases, their workplaces had a diversity and inclusion policy, the survey of 500 women conducted by not-for-profit Women of Colour Australia found.

“Our research clearly illustrates that women of colour continue to experience disproportionate discrimination and prejudices in the workplace despite the widespread rhetoric of diversity and inclusion,” Women of Colour Australia chairwoman Pilar Kasat said.

Women from diverse cultural backgrounds tend to be overlooked with “broad platitudes that seek to advance women’s representation without questioning which women are most likely to benefit,” she said.

A fifth, or 21 per cent, of respondents to the survey said they did not feel they had experienced challenges related to their identity as a woman of colour in the workplace and 19 per cent answered “maybe”.

Just over a third felt they would be heard and respected if they were to raise issues relating to their cultural identity in the workplace, while a third said they wouldn’t, and the final third were unsure.

A total of 543 women participated in the survey, of which seven per cent identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Women of Colour Australia was established in 2020 and is a not-for-profit organisation aiming to champion women of diverse cultural backgrounds through education programs, community support and advocacy.

Founder and managing director of Women of Colour Australia Brenda Gaddi said the group does not just focus on skin colour.

“It is more importantly a commitment of solidarity amongst women who have been minoritised and racialised,” she added.

‘A person of colour’ is a term most commonly used to describe people of non-Caucasian cultural background.

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