I’ve recently completed my undergraduate degree in BSc Psychology and Sociology (with honours yay!). In my dissertation, I discussed the racial discrimination black British graduates face in the labour market, with gender, class and ethnicity as the key variables. I think it is rather important to expose what the graduates I had interviewed faced in the labour market and how the three variables affected them. The conclusion of my findings ties all the variables together and establishes how the graduates were affected by them.

In conclusion, this study gives us a glimpse into young black graduates’ upheavals and how they overcome issues regarding racial discrimination in the labour market which still prevail in today’s society. This research has demonstrated the extent of how racism has changed shows the true extent of how literature today has only explored the tip of the iceberg about the prevalence of new racism, and how affects black graduates in the labour market and at work. Resilience and the power to overcome adversity is a theme that becomes apparent in the study, as the young black graduates explored different measures to overcome the issues faced with discrimination in the workplace. Similarly, this research supports the majority of existing literature and the theoretical bases, however there are some differences, for example the statistical discrimination theory supporting the idea that racial stereotypes have a negative effect in the labour market, however this research found that some participants used the racial stereotypes their advantage. The main contributions of this research is delving into the complexity of the racial discrimination young black graduates face in the labour market. In addition, addressing the variables of the study, which were class, gender and ethnicity reveal how they have different effects on the interviewees regarding racial discrimination they have experienced at work and their coping mechanisms. Moreover, the theories used to support the study highlights the different dimensions of discrimination at work and explains how they can have an effect on the racial discrimination experienced by the participants.

The difference in ethnicity showed how racial discrimination in the labour market can be experienced differently between the two ethnic groups; British Africans and British Caribbeans. This supported and highlighted that ethnic homophily is prevalent in the labour market, experienced by some of the British African interviewees due to their names reflecting their heritage. This became, in some cases, a barrier of employment, which support Bertrand and Mullainathan (2004) study and emphasised by David Cameron in 2015. Compared to the British Caribbean interviewees, the British African interviewees spoke about their struggle with simply getting their foot in the door and suspected that it was due to their names, resulting in creating English sounding names. This showed that there were differences of racial discrimination experienced in the labour market due to the ethnicity of the participant.

From the study, we have seen that the working class interviewees were more likely to experience racial discrimination in the workplace as they had been within the labour market more that the middle class interviewees, emphasising the opinions of the conflict theory. Moreover, the working class interviewees are most likely to encounter more discrimination in their workplaces from the data collected in the study. The study shows that working class interviewees experienced more barriers in the workplace, for example the inability to express their views as well as their middle class counterparts in the workplace. However, the middle class and working class interviewees equally did not allow the racial discrimination they had experienced in the labour market and at work to discourage and alter their aspirations and goals. This variable was significant as it highlighted the class differences and dynamics in the racial discrimination the interviewees faced in the work place.

Gender was a significant variable in the research as it revealed the different levels of racial discrimination the two genders faced differently and similarly. In addition, the variable showed the ways in which the two genders dealt with the racial discrimination they had received. The women interviewed were open about the racial discrimination experienced in the workplace. In addition, the women addressed the way they dealt with the racial discrimination by ensuring there was a means of changing things for the next generation, for example, Fiona spoke about mentoring young people to help change negative attitudes to different racial groups and Yemi created her own business to ensure people were not discriminated. The sense of a ‘double discrimination’ had been vocalised, as some of the women believed that there was a double barrier of discrimination in the labour market. The men who were interviewed spoke about racial discrimination they had experienced in a manner of breaking stereotypes of ‘the black man’ they felt had been imposed on them in the workplace by working ‘extra hard’ to curb this.

Addressing racial discrimination experiences by looking at ethnicity, class and gender shows the difference in experience; some interviewees experience different levels of racial discrimination and react to it differently. However, the changing nature of racial discrimination and the challenges faced was seen through the study, which is the main contribution of the research. Racism has changed, and all of the participants who experienced some form of racial discrimination believed that this was the case. However, all of the interviewees were extremely ambitious and did not want to allow the racial discrimination they had experienced at work to have an effect on their goals and aspirations, although some of the impacts of racial discrimination had affected them which were beyond their control, such as starting new careers, becoming entrepreneurs or pursuing further education. This ambition may change in the future, however what this study demonstrates is that their optimism is not destroyed by the discriminatory labour market.  As David Cameron promised to address issues like ethnic homophily in the workplace, and states reporting discrimination at work should be an easier process, as all of the interviewees who had experienced some form of racial discrimination in the labour market did not make a formal complaint.

For future studies on racial discrimination in the labour market, a larger sample and triangulation of research methods including quantitative research methods such as questionnaires or surveys would beneficial, as combining research methods may overcome the limitations of a singular research method this research had encountered and create a better representation of the population.

If you would like the full dissertation (10,000 words) don’t hesitate to email me 

Tiffany Afia



*Disclaimer: all names in this dissertation are not the participants real names. Pseudonyms have been provided to hide their identities*