Women from ethnic minorities are feeling discriminated against in the workplace, the chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has claimed.
Speaking on BBC Radio Two's Working Lunch programme, Jenny Watson said that women from ethnic minority groups were confronted with a "lower glass ceiling" when they entered the workplace.
A recent report from the EOC found that around 80 to 89 per cent of 16-year-old girls from ethnic minorities said they wanted to work full-time, yet they were four times more likely to be unemployed than their white counterparts.
Ms Watson said: "Very often very many of the 16-year-olds that we surveyed said that they look at a job and think: 'Well that's not for me because of who I am – because I am a Muslim woman, because I am a black woman'."
Many women felt they were more likely to be asked about plans for marriage and children in job interviews, while one in five of the Bangladeshi and Pakistani women surveyed said they had experienced negative comments about the clothes they wore to work, particularly those who wore hijab or a headscarf.
The situation was a disadvantage to employers, argued Ms Watson, as population change meant that women from black and minority ethnic backgrounds were becoming an increasingly important part of the labour market.
Around nine in ten employers have acknowledged that they could do more to employ women from ethnic minority backgrounds, she said.