New research by Samsung UK & Ireland reveals Arab workers are over four times more likely, and Black workers are three times more likely to lie to their family and friends about their career due to family expectations.

Exacerbated by wider cultural pressures, workers are also adjusting the way they show up to work.

A staggering 31 percent change what they eat and 31 percent of ethnic minorities adjust their accent to fit in.

The survey of 1,500 UK workers (1,000 White, 500+ from ethnic minority groups) not only looked at how ethnicity bias is showing up in the workplace, but it also examined the cultural barriers and considerations present when making early career decisions.

One of the starkest findings is that cultural pressures weigh twice as heavy for talent from historically underrepresented ethnic communities compared to their White peers (70% vs 31%) when deciding which career to pursue.

However, workers, in general, agree that close family members such as their mum (50%) and dad (51%) put the most pressure on them to make certain decisions about career direction.

Cultural barriers ethnic minority groups face when choosing a career

The research also found that workers from the Black community feel the weight of financial burden far more than other workers, with almost half (49%) citing ‘providing financially for their family’, as a key expectation.

The emotional toll of these pressures is palpable. Respondents from ethnic minorities say they feel controlled (39%), restricted in their choices (34%), lacking in confidence (38%), and unfulfilled (28%) when told what job or career path they should, or should not, pursue.

When looking at the most acceptable career paths, becoming a doctor, lawyer or accountant were professional routes deemed most prestigious; felt particularly strongly by those from Asian origins.

Working in the services industry (17%) and creative industries (13%) came out on top as some of the most desirable jobs if there were no financial, cultural or family expectations.

Interestingly, the research also found that for Asian (11%) and Black employees (8%), accounting and finance was still the industry they would most like to go into, even if money was no object.

“If we are to break down the barriers to open doors to careers outside of medicine, finance and law, and see more professions as viable and celebrated career options, there must be acknowledgment from industries to help shift perceptions such as those from ethnic minorities – and their families” said Dave Thompson, Head of Training at Samsung UK & Ireland, and founder of the Black Professionals @ Samsung Employee Resource Group (ERG).

“If we want everyone to bring their authentic selves to work and thrive in their jobs, we must take steps to not only understand, but also challenge the current state of play. Workplaces can help by building out sustainable careers across their business, subsidiaries and strategic partners to ensure the best practices are in place to drive equity, diversity and belonging at the centre of everything they do. At Samsung, we know there’s still work to be done to make all workers feel they can be heard and valued, but we’re committed to continuing our journey”, continued Dave Thompson.

Bias at work

According to the research, Black and Arab employees reportedly feel the most marginalised, with 59 percent and 61 percent respectively, saying they have been treated differently due to their cultural background.

Shockingly, almost half (48%) of ethnic minorities have been a victim of unconscious racism at work, with this felt by 45 percent of Asian workers, over half (53%) of Black employees and rising to 60 percent when we look at Arab workers.

A third (33%) of ethnic minority workers have said they have also experienced blatant racism (rising to 46% for Arab workers and 44% for Black workers), with 40 percent of those from ethnic minority backgrounds told they should ‘smile more’.

Founder of Dope Black Dads and ED&I agency BELOVD Marvyn Harrison, said:

“We have a generational issue of workers in ethnic communities being pressured into high-paying and traditional job roles as a way of navigating systemic inequality. From my own experience, Black families specifically have stopped believing their children will have equality without creating a perceived value in their career.

“This prevents a diversification of the types of roles people commit to at the highest level, and an important sense of belonging once they get there. The impact of this mental load means Black employees are not showing up as their full self and experiencing imposter syndrome which prevents them from excelling and progressing at the rate their talent deserves. We need a generational shift of all races and ethnicities pursuing roles which suit their passions and consider their neurodiversity, mental health, class, gender, religion and sexuality, as well as being fully accepted for who they are.”







Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.