London pay audit reveals deep race inequality


London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has released an action plan to address racial pay gaps among Greater London Authority employees. After conducting a trailblazing pay audit, the Mayor’s office has revealed that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic workers earn as much as 37% less than their white counterparts, on average.

The audit included data from all GLA entities, with the most striking gaps found within the Metropolitan Police Force (16.7%), London Legacy Development Corporation (37.5%) and Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (30%). Mayor Khan is taking this inequity seriously, saying in a statement:

“I am deeply troubled that members of the Black Asian and minority ethnic community who work at these organisations earn on average less than their white counterparts, and I am determined to confront this inequality.

“This sort of injustice takes many years to develop and it becomes deeply entrenched. My administration is finally beginning the process of turning this around.

This audit is one of the first of its kind, and revealed that the discrepancy in pay is not due to employees in similar jobs with similar experience being paid less, but to an underrepresentation of BAME employees in high paid top positions. As much of the conversation about representation and equity coming from government officials often centres around gender only, it is impressive to see elected officials taking seriously the systemic exclusion of BAME workers from more senior positions.

The gaps in pay seem especially egregious for London’s development corporations, as both are aimed at bringing housing and jobs to areas of west London that have some of the largest BAME populations and some of the lowest income levels in London. In a city with such a diverse population, and especially in such diverse areas of London, it is unacceptable to have such underrepresentation and undercompensation at the top of organizations responsible for serving these areas.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, for example, is working on a development and regeneration plan that will cover Ealing, Brent, and Hammersmith and Fulham. All of these boroughs have a BAME population over 50%, and Brent specifically has the 6th lowest median household income in London. These development corporations are expected to bring in more homes and jobs in order to further London’s “competitive position in the global economy.” Why, then, do these corporations have the most outrageous racial pay gaps?

Mayor Khan plans to address all of the inequality revealed in the recent audit, and has laid out steps, including unconscious bias training, name blind applications, and diverse interview panels to do so. This audit is an impressive first step towards building a more equitable and representative London, and we can only hope Mayor Khan will continue with the plans he’s laid out.


Dominque Brodie