Ethnic minorities in the hospitality sector

Comparing the experiences of hospitality workers from different ethnic backgrounds

This briefing note looks at the experiences in the hospitality sector of workers from different ethnic backgrounds. It finds that 1 in 6 hospitality workers are from an ethnic minority background, compared to around 1 in 8 workers in the rest of the economy. Ethnic minority workers in hospitality vary both in their characteristics and in their experiences in work. For example, the White British group within hospitality is relatively young (with a median age of 28) while most ethnic minority groups within hospitality are older, on average.

In terms of work experiences, we look at pay, occupation, contract type, and indirect measures of job satisfaction. There is no one ethnic group that consistently does ‘well’ or ‘badly’ on these measures. We find that hospitality workers from Indian and Other ethnic groups have highest median pay (although still well below median pay rates outside hospitality), Chinese and Bangladeshi hospitality workers are most likely to be self-employed, and workers from Black and ‘Mixed/Multiple’ ethnic backgrounds are most likely to be in the lower-paying occupations within the sector.

Finally, we compare the pay of hospitality workers within the combined ‘Black and Minority Ethnic’ group with White British workers, and find a ‘pay penalty’ for BAME workers – they earn less, relative to White British workers, than would be expected based on their personal characteristics and the types of job they do.