Ethnicity Bias at Work: Due to Family Expectations, Ethnic Minorities are Twice as Likely to Lie About Their Career Choices

December 12, 2022
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• Ethnic minorities feel cultural pressure twice as much as their White peers (38% vs 14%) when choosing a career path - becoming a doctor, lawyer or accountant among most accepted career choices
• Arab and Black workers more likely to keep their career choices secret. In fact, Arab workers are over four times more likely (61%) to lie about their career due to family or cultural expectations, compared to their White Peers (14%). Black workers are three times more likely (44%) to lie.
• Four in five Black (82%) and Arab (80%) workers feel they must ‘work harder’ compared to their White British colleagues in the same role
• Half (50%) of ethnic minorities have been a victim of unconscious racism at work
• Ethnic minority workers have had to adapt their personality almost four times more than their White peers, to fit in at work (56% vs 15%) and 35% of ethnic minorities have been told to ‘smile more’
• Only over one fifth (22%) of workers strongly agree that their place of work is culturally diverse and carving out a positive path forward

London, UK – 12 December 2022 – 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 what they do for a living due to family expectations.


Exacerbated by wider cultural pressures, workers are also adjusting the way they show up to work, with 28% changing what they eat and 32% of ethnic minorities adjusting their accent to fit in.


The survey of 1,568 UK workers (1,000 White, 568 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 (40%), restricted in their choices (35%), lacking in confidence (37%), and unfulfilled (27%) 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.


Career All total White








Mixed race


Medicine (doctor/surgeon) 35% 22% 45% 38% 54% 38%
Law 22% 17% 23% 23% 27% 27%
Accounting/ finance/banking 13% 12% 15% 12% 11% 13%
Scientist 12% 14% 8% 11% 11% 16%
Engineer 11% 10% 8% 14% 14% 16%
Dentistry 11% 10% 12% 13% 13% 11%
Teacher 11% 14% 8% 6% 10% 11%
Real Estate 8% 11% 7% 8% 3% 4%
Construction/tradesperson 8% 14% 1% 5% 3% 4%
Computing 8% 9% 9% 5% 7% 4%
Fitness/training 7% 11% 1% 7% 6% 7%

Table: Careers deemed most acceptable by family by ethnicity


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’d 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: 4 in 5 Black and Arab employees say they must ‘work harder’ than their White colleagues


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


Shockingly, half (50%) of ethnic minorities have been a victim of unconscious racism at work, with this felt by 45% of Asian workers, over half (53%) of Black employees and rising to 60% when we look at Arab workers. Over a third (36) of ethnic minority workers have said they have also experienced blatant racism (rising to 46% for Arab workers and 44% for Black workers), with 35% 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.”


The research found a staggering number of workers feel they must ‘work harder’ compared to their White British colleagues in the same role: 82% of Arab workers, 80% Black workers, and 66% of Asian workers. In fact, ethnic minority employees reported doing this by working more efficiently (46%), feeling the expectation to produce a higher standard of work (38%), and having an in-built desire to do the best job they can (33%).  Over half of Asian workers (51%) reported doing this by working more efficiently. 43% of Black workers carry the expectation to produce a higher standard of work, and 41% of Arab workers take on work outside of their job role – demonstrating just some of the ways that ethnic minorities are going the extra yard at work in order to be heard and valued.


Experiences of ethnic minorities in the workplace, include:


  • Having their name repeatedly misspelt or mispronounced (41%)
  • Assuming they will find things offensive (33%)
  • Being given jobs no one else wants to do (31%)
  • Being left out of social activities (32%)
  • Being overlooked for pay rises or promotions (33%)
  • People feeling awkward asking about their culture (30%)


Another key way behaviour has changed for ethnic minority workers is that they have had to adapt their personality almost four times more than their White peers, to fit in at work (58% vs 15%). 66% of Black workers felt this. Overall, this is because UK workers:


  • Felt like they needed to (39%)
  • Didn’t want to stand out (37%)
  • Wanted to be perceived to be like everyone else (41%)
  • Want to keep their culture separate from work (26%)
  • Want to be more relatable (23%)
  • Felt they needed to, to progress in their career (20%)


What organisations should be doing to be more inclusive


With just over one fifth (22%) of workers strongly agreeing that their place of work is culturally diverse and committed to carving out a positive path forward, employees said companies need to do more to attract talent from historically underrepresented ethnic communities, including the below actions:


  • Hosting cultural awareness training (30%)
  • Hosting inclusion training (29%)
  • Working with racially diverse charities (28%)
  • Introducing a mandatory requirement to interview people for senior positions (24%)
  • Running mentoring programmes (22%)
  • Introducing entry-level requirements for hiring ethnically diverse talent (21%)


These research findings align with what we’ve known to be the experiences of many of those from historically underrepresented ethnic communities at work – and that is one of challenge, discrimination and being repeatedly misunderstood. If organisations truly want to benefit from ethnic diversity, a focus on true inclusion is vital. This means challenging entrenched stereotypes and focusing daily on equity in processes and interactions. Individuals from historically underrepresented ethnic communities must be provided with access to opportunities, the most relevant development support, mentorship and the space to be their true selves. In addition, managers and teams need to learn how to have open, honest, direct and authentic conversations where topics like culture, background and personal experiences can be shared to develop greater trust ” said Edleen John, Board member at the Tech Talent Charter, a government-supported, industry-led membership group that brings together 700+ Signatory organisations and equips them with the networks and resources to drive their diversity and inclusion efforts.


Samsung Pioneers – A platform for change


Samsung Pioneers is Samsung UK’s platform created to champion greater equality in the technology industry and advocate change in the company to create a culture of advocacy and allyship. Commitments to equality at Samsung UK & Ireland include:


  • Our Solve for Tomorrow programme aims to create more inclusive, quality learning experiences for young people across society and to empower future generations to achieve their full potential.
  • Mandatory Inclusive Hiring training has been designed to educate hiring managers on how bias impacts the recruitment process and equips them with tools and tips to mitigate its impact. We also track diverse interview panels to encourage diversity throughout the hiring process.
  • Becoming a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, continuing our commitment to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusivity.
  • Creating Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within the business to build an inclusive, caring, supportive and engaged community, including Black Professionals at Samsung – offering a place for everyone to listen, learn about and drive diversity in Samsung.
  • Still in its infancy, in 2022, Black Professionals at Samsung have hosted Shine a Light discussions, run two events and organised seven visits to schools, colleges or Universities with a significant black student base, so far, this year.
  • To celebrate Black History Month 2022, Black Professionals @ Samsung hosted a BHM Shine A Light special, with Selina Nkoile from Global Partnership for Education, hosted a discussion alongside the Women@Samsung ERG ‘Spotlighting black females’, hosted a live cooking show – celebrating the tastes of the Caribbean and Africa with renowned chef Levi Roots, at Samsung KX, and created a playlist on Spotify to celebrate music from Africa, Caribbean Classics, Black British heroes and Future Pioneers of music hits.

Press Resources > Press Release


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