Our Anti-Racism commitment

The Living Wage Foundation exists to tackle in-work poverty. 
We know we cannot be an anti-poverty organisation without
also being an anti-racist one.

We are clear that structural racism permeates every aspect of our society, including the UK labour market. We are clear structural racism also contributes and compounds inequality and experiences of poverty. That means we need to do more to tackle racism and injustice in our work, building a movement of employers standing up for fair pay and conditions, while also focusing on our own organisation and its structures, culture and practices. It is evident that paying the real Living Wage benefits minority ethnic workers as they make up a higher proportion of low paid roles, but the Living Wage can only ever be a starting point on a much bigger journey toward racial equality.

The Living Wage Foundation stands in solidarity with racialised communities and all those affected by racism. To us, solidarity means respecting, listening, supporting and acting. We know we all play a role in perpetuating current norms and more debate is not enough – we need transformative solutions for an anti-racist society. We’re a long way from achieving justice, but we’re committed to the responsibility we have and must be held accountable to by our staff, and our partners, to tackle racism in its many forms. 

On this page you will find information about what we are doing, and the links between low-pay, insecure work and race.

The importance of race in our movement’s roots

Living Wage Campaigners with placards

The Living Wage Foundation is an initiative of Citizens UK, the people-powered alliance that is the UK’s home of Community Organising. In 2001, The Living Wage campaign was born in East London- a movement established by low paid workers, largely from racialised communities, who were stuck doing multiple jobs on low pay, and struggling to make ends meet - people like Abdul Durrant; the Black British Muslim man who worked nights as a cleaner at a well-known bank’s Canary Wharf headquarters in Canary Wharf, who every evening cleaned the offices of the Chairman, earning the very minimum  per hour. Having connected with others to buy shares, Abdul came not as a cleaner, but as a shareholder to the company’s AGM and nervously stood up in front of all the investors and executives to say to the Chairman “We work in the same office, but we live in different worlds. Let me tell you what it’s like to work on very little and bring up six children.” Within 18 months, the bank and other major banks signed up to pay a Living Wage. Twenty years on the campaign has seen almost 450,000 workers get a pay-rise and has put £2bn back into the pockets of low-paid workers – none of this would have been possible without the brave people like Abdul who first drove this campaign.  

Today, at Citizens UK we have been working to tackle racism internally and pursue our value of inclusion, but we recognise we have a long way to go. You can read more about what we are doing in this recent statement on racial justice work at Citizens UK

Our research clearly demonstrates that racialised communities are…

Disproportionately impacted by low pay

Racialised communities are more likely than their white counterparts to experience insecurity at work. Our report - A Living Wage Matters: The Role of the Living Wage in Closing Ethnicity Pay Gaps demonstrates:


  • Certain minority ethnic groups face a much greater risk of earning less than the real Living Wage than others. For example, 33% of Bangladeshi workers earn less than the Living Wage, the highest among all ethnic groups. The same is true for 29% of Pakistani workers and 27% of those from ‘Any other Asian background’.
  • In our survey of 2,010 minority ethnic workers, the majority (56%) have experienced some form of discrimination at work, significantly impacting their levels of pay and progression in the labour market.
  • There is a high degree of underemployment among minority ethnic workers. For example, a much larger proportion of male Pakistani (27%) and Bangladeshi (37%) workers are in part time roles compared with white male workers (11%). Minority ethnic workers are also more likely to work in roles not aligned with their skills level, with 40% of Black African and 39% of Bangladeshi employees feeling overqualified for their jobs compared with just a quarter of white workers.

Disproportionately impacted by insecure work

Racialised communities are more likely than their white counterparts to experience insecurity at work. Our Living Hours Index 2: Exploring the Ethnicity Hours Gap report reveals:

  • 71% are employed in shift work compared to just 53% of white workers.
  • 45% of workers from minority ethnic backgrounds get less than a week’s notice for shifts, compared with 28% of white workers.
  • 38% of minority ethnic workers have had shifts cancelled unexpectedly over the past 12 months, compared to 24% of white workers. When shifts are cancelled, three quarters (74%) of minority ethnic workers receive less than half of their regular wage.

Our Precarious pay and uncertain hours: Insecure work in the UK Labour Market research from 2023 also shows that:

  • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British workers are the most likely to be in insecure work of all ethnic groups, with over a quarter (26.4 per cent) experiencing work insecurity.
  • Pakistani/Bangladeshi workers have the highest levels of low paid insecure work (15.5 per cent).
  • Minority ethnic workers are more likely to be in low paid insecure work than white workers (13% vs 10%).

Our research also indicates that with insecure working patterns such as short notice periods or shift cancellations, comes an ‘insecurity premium’, this means additional costs which are felt disproportionately by minority ethnic workers:

  • 37% have paid higher travel costs, compared to 26% of white workers
  • 24% have paid higher childcare costs, compared to 16% of white workers.
  • 27% said they had increased their reliance on debt as a result of the way their shifts are organised, compared to 19% of white workers.


Understanding the scale of the problem is one thing, but we cannot expect to see positive change if we do not evolve our own organisation and continue to hold a mirror up to ourselves.

What we’re doing

At the Living Wage Foundation, our ambition is to become an anti-racist organisation. We will continue working with our growing network of over 15,000 accredited Living Wage Employers this year with the ambition to become an anti-racist organisation. We do not have all the answers, but we are dedicated to learning, listening and doing the work.

Our areas of focus for 2023-2024 includes:

  • Developing further analysis of the impact of low pay and insecure work on minority ethnic people.
  • Amplifying the links between race and our work, connecting with employers in our network to learn from and share ideas on becoming more anti-racist.
  • Improve diversity of our own people and leadership groups and represent a greater range of voices in our work.
  • Embed anti-racism objectives into our core business objectives, making sure to hold ourselves accountable and evaluate impact.

These conversations are ongoing across our movement, colleagues at the Living Wage Foundation and Citizens UK, who are committed to challenging structural racism. We will update this page with more information as plans develop.

What you can do?

We acknowledge that we are not experts here, and are committed to working and connecting with others on anti-racism work. We’d also love to hear from others in our Living Wage movement on what they’re doing to become an anti-racist organisation and collaborate, as we have a better chance of driving change together.

You can also amplify some of the research and analysis on this page through your networks, to demonstrate the links between low-pay, insecure work and race.