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

Anfanteision cymhleth sy’n bodoli ers blynyddoedd wedi dod yn amlwg yn sgil y pandemig, yn ôl casgliadau adroddiad

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

The report by the BAME Covid-19 expert advisory group, which was set up by First Minister Mark Drakeford, makes more than 30 recommendations to the Welsh Government to address the socio-economic and environmental risks it highlights.

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.

Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, who chaired the subgroup, 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 report, which is published today, 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.

In his initial response to Professor Ogbonna’s report, First Minister Mark Drakeford, said:

“The advisory group was set up to investigate the range of socio-economic factors which are critical to health and social care outcomes for people from BAME backgrounds.

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

An analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) of Covid-19 related deaths across England and Wales by ethnicity showed that people from a Black ethnic background are at a greater risk of death involving COVID-19 than all other ethnic groups. The risk for black males has been more than three times higher than white males and nearly two and a half times higher for black females than white.

Adjusting for socio-economic factors and geographical location partly explains the increased risk, but there remains twice the risk for Black males and around one and a half times for black females. Significant differences also remain for Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian men.

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

The second BAME Covid-19 Advisory sub-group, chaired by Professor Keshav Singhal, developed a two-stage risk-assessment, which was launched in the Welsh NHS and social care last month. It is designed to help people assess their risk of coronavirus and, in consultation with their employers, take steps to reduce their potential exposure, which could mean increasing their use of PPE to a change of roles.

Notes to editors

The report of the BAME Covid-19 socioeconomic sub-group chaired by Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna will be issued at 12.30 on Monday 22 June.

Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna will be available for interview – please contact or

Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna is Professor of Management and Organization at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University.  He gained his PhD from University of Wales Cardiff in 1990. His doctoral thesis explored the organizational cultural implications of the strategic directions of leading companies in the UK food retail sector in the late 1980s. 

He joined Cardiff Business School as a lecturer in 1990 and progressed through the ranks and was appointed to his present professorial position in 2002.  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 was part of a team that completed a recent British Academy and Chartered Management Institute sponsored research project on diversity in the management pipelines of FTSE 100 organizations.  He is currently extending his work in this area to include the impacts of a range of intra-organizational interventions (such as leadership, organizational culture and management control) on diversity and inclusion. 

He has published over 100 scholarly papers, monographs and edited collections, many of which are leading-edge contributions in high-ranking international outlets.  His work has received several national and international citations of excellence, including Best Paper in Services Research (USA), top 50 most read management articles, most downloaded articles and several articles that have been ranked as editors’ choices and journal prize nominees. 

Emmanuel is a current or past member of the Editorial Boards of many of the leading management journals and he has served in advisory and consulting capacities to a range of national and international organizations and agencies. 

He is currently a Trustee and vice-chair of Race Council Wales.  Emmanuel lives in Cardiff and is married with two daughters and has recently become a grandfather.