Half of black professionals say ethnicity is a barrier to their career — survey

Unconscious racial bias in hiring people a key obstacle, say members of African Professional Network of Ireland

Almost half (49 per cent) of black professionals in Ireland believe that their ethnicity has negatively impacted their career opportunities and career progression in Ireland.

That is according to a survey of 118 members of the African Professional Network of Ireland (APNI), a volunteer-run group of members of the Afro-Irish and African diaspora community across Ireland.

Among the main barriers they say they identified are: unconscious racial bias in hiring people who were “the same”; a lack of mentorship and networking opportunities; and lack of ethnically diverse role models in Irish business.

Almost all respondents were degree-educated, and a majority (69 per cent) had additional postgraduate qualifications. Over three-quarters indicated they were fluent in at least one other language in addition to English.


Respondents were predominantly employed in ICT and technology sectors, followed by retail and hospitality and professional services, including financial and legal.

A majority (67 per cent) considered their sector to be supportive of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. However, more than a third (36 per cent) indicated they are not employed in their desired role.

Ayo Olabimtan, APNI president and investment manager with NTR plc, said that while it was clear some career barriers still exist for black communities in Ireland, it was finding “huge appetite” among businesses to understand more about what they can do to ensure their companies and recruitment processes are inclusive.

He was speaking following APNI’s first career event hosted by LinkedIn in Dublin. Over 550 people attended the event which aimed to connect top talent from Afro-Irish, African diaspora and black communities in Ireland with employers and employment opportunities.

“We hear from a lot of our members that they lack the professional network to support their career, and so the simple and practical step of providing a platform for people to meet peers and companies face-to-face was a key priority for us at APNI,” he said.

A number of companies representing significant employers in Ireland supported the event including LinkedIn, Google, NTR plc, JP Morgan, Accenture, Apple, Workday, LetsGetChecked, Fidelity International, Optum, Sky, Zoetis, HubSpot and Mercury.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent