BAME employees feel need to hide their identity at work to fit in

Under half of Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) employees feel they have to hide part of their identity to fit in at their office.

This was found by Utopia, the culture change business, that 49 per cent of BAME workers believe they need to “mask part of their identity to fit in at the office”. This increases when looking specifically at BAME women as 59 per cent feel this way.

In addition, 41 per cent of BAME staff say their workplace does not offer an inclusive culture. With the same amount of BAME employees stating they feel less likely to progress professionally due to their ethnicity. In contrast, only 9 per cent of white workers feel this way.

Half (50 per cent) of BAME men and 59 per cent of BAME women are afraid to show vulnerability at work and 44 per cent of BAME workers, in general are not comfortable asking for emotional support at work when they need it.

Tolu Farinto, change-maker at Utopia, said:

The research shows the Black community in particular is faced with the pressure of forming faux identities because employers are orchestrating an environment that expects workers to ‘act white’. And because of these ‘white cultures’ Black employees are not progressing as fast as their white colleagues. To overcome these systemic challenges, businesses must create inclusive cultures that demonstrate ethnicity is not a barrier to success in the workplace. This is integral now more than ever, as employers start to consider the move back to the physical office.

Emma Mainoo, change-maker and head of Utopia’s mental health practice, said:

A diverse, inclusive workforce is a healthy workforce. To go back to an environment where they still feel like outsiders is something ethnic minority workers shouldn’t have to face. However, the Black Lives Matter movement has forced people managers and business leaders to take accountability and spearhead change. Hopefully this will translate into the post-pandemic workplace.

In order to gather these results, Utopia spoke to over 2,000 UK employees.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.