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Complex and long-standing disadvantages exposed by coronavirus pandemic, report finds

30 June 2020

Accident and emergency ward

A major report reveals the complex and long-standing factors contributing to the disproportionate impact coronavirus is having on Wales’ Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna of Cardiff University chaired the subgroup from the BAME Covid-19 expert advisory group, which was set up by First Minister Mark Drakeford. Their report makes more than 30 recommendations to the Welsh Government to address the socio-economic and environmental risks it highlights.

Professor Ogbonna said: “There’s an overall theme running through our research for this report. It centres on long-standing racism and disadvantage and the lack of BAME representation within decision-making processes”.

“The coronavirus pandemic is, in some respects, revealing the consequences of a lack of action on race equality. Many of the issues we’ve highlighted have been identified and discussed previously, but they haven’t been addressed in any systematic and sustained way.”

The advisory group was set up to look at the reasons why people from BAME communities were more likely to be adversely affected by coronavirus. It is co-chaired by Judge Ray Singh and Dr Heather Payne and has two sub-groups – one of which has been tasked with examining the socio-economic factors.

The report reveals a number of key socio-economic and environmental risk factors, including:

  • Communication of health information and how effective it is
  • Cultural issues relating to the suitability of health and social services for BAME communities
  • Income and employment insecurity, which is experienced disproportionately by BAME communities
  • Poor quality of ethnicity data, which is preventing accurate analysis
  • Housing overcrowding and environment
  • The financial burden created by migration status
  • The role of structural and systemic racism and disadvantage.

First Minister Mark Drakeford launched an urgent investigation in April to understand the reasons for the higher risk of coronavirus among BAME communities.

He said: “I am very grateful to Professor Ogbonna and the members of the subgroup for their swift but detailed work and their recommendations.”

Professor Ogbonna is Professor of Management and Organization at Cardiff Business School. His research interests cut across the fields of organization studies, strategy, marketing and human resource management.  His recent research interests have been in the areas of organizational culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, and his work has explored the position of black and minority ethnic communities in the labour market. He is currently a Trustee and vice-chair of Race Council Wales.

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