Race Inequality in Wales

The Facts

In 2014, there was an estimated 126,100 people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups living in Wales. Cardiff has approximately 51,900 BME individuals (14.8% of the population of Cardiff) and Newport is estimated to have 16,700 individuals (11.4% of the population of Newport). The communities with few individuals from BME backgrounds and also the least ethnically diverse are Blaenau Gwent with 800 individuals (1.2%), Isle of Anglesey 900 (1.4%), and Bridgend 1,000 (0.7%). Other local authorities who have the highest ethnic diversity outside of Cardiff and Newport were: Swansea 12,200 (5.1%) and The Vale of Glamorgan 4,300 (3.4%)[1].

Percentage of residents identifying as BME

Percentage of residents identifying as BME

A 2009 study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission outlined some of the specific needs and issues relating to language and culture[2]. Problems included include an increased likelihood of an individual coming from a low income family, higher rates of specific health conditions, discrimination, living in areas of high unemployment, migration and sector clustering[3]. The Office for National Statistics in 2012 gathered data to find out the unemployment rates of young people who were economically active (those in employment plus those who are unemployed)[4]. The research found that 55.5% of Black men aged 16–24, who were economically active were unemployed. This figure has nearly doubled since 2008. When comparing the unemployment rates of all economically active adults in the UK we see that 19.7% of Black people, 9.4% of Indian people and 15% of Pakistani/Bangladeshi people are unemployed. This compares to 7.6% of economically active White people[5]. Research conducted into racial discrimination by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) found that anyone with an African or Asian sounding surname would need to send approximately twice as many job applications as someone with a traditionally English name to get a job interview. It also found that public sector employers were less likely to discriminate on the grounds of race (4%) while private sector employers were far more likely to discriminate (35%)[6].

Know Your Rights

Race discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably because of race, colour, and nationality, ethnic or national origin. Race discrimination covers four areas: Direct discrimination: Treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived race, or because of the race of someone with whom they associate Indirect discrimination: Occurs where there is a policy, practice or procedure which applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages people of a particular race. An example could be a requirement for all job applicants to have GCSE Maths and English: people educated in countries which don’t have GCSEs would be discriminated against if equivalent qualifications were not accepted. Indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim Harassment: When unwanted conduct related to race has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual Victimisation: Unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about racial discrimination. In very limited circumstances, there are some jobs which can require that the job-holder is of a particular racial group. This is known as an ‘occupational requirement’. One example is where the job-holder provides personal welfare services to a limited number of people and those services can most effectively be provided by a person of a particular racial group due to cultural needs and sensitivities. Positive action is where an employer can provide support, training or encourage people from a particular racial group. An employer must ensure any positive action taken is a proportionate way of tackling the under representation of a particular racial group, without discriminating against people outside of that group. Positive action is only allowed where a particular racial group:

  • Suffers a disadvantage
  • Is disproportionately under-represented
  • Has needs that are different from the needs of other racial groups in the workforce.

Positive action is not the same as positive discrimination which can be regarded as preferential treatment of member of a minority group. This is illegal in Great Britain[7].


  1. Ethnicity by area and ethnic group.
  2. Parliament website. Work and Pensions Committee – Youth Unemployment and the Youth Contract.
  3. Office for National Statistics.  Labour Market Statistics, March 2012.
  4. Parliament website. Work and Pensions Committee – Youth Unemployment and the Youth Contract.
  5. Department for Work and Pensions. Research Report No 607. A test for racial discrimination in recruitment practice in British cities.
  6. Race discrimination.