Asian Representation in the UK

Trends / Realness
We Are
Davina Ajana
Nov 14, 2022
The British Asian population is made up of many diverse identities: various ethnicities, religions, linguistic and regional groups. But visual storytelling about the British Asian community lacks representation of the diverse heritage and cultures that continue to link the UK with South and East Asia, in particular.  
The interest from Getty Images customers is reflected by searches for ‘British Asian’ (+1300%), ‘Bangladesh’ (+127%), Pakistan (+ 459%) and ‘Chinese’ (+181%) which have increased over time.
VisualGPS research shows that less than 5% of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese people closely identify with the terms of their ethnicity. Regardless, 26% of UK women still believe their ethnic group is portrayed negatively in ads, and 50% of Southern Asian women say they rarely or never see people from their ethnic group in ads.1 
When it comes to authentic representation of the British Asian community, the stakes are high: the eruption of the Covid‑19 pandemic saw a rise of hate crime incidents against East and Southeast Asian communities by 27%.2  With the Indian community being the largest ethnic minority group in the UK, brands need to knowledge and build authentic stories around British Asian communities.3 
At Getty Images, most visuals which feature people from the Asian community in UK are seen at work—a pattern that is similar in the USA, Germany and France.4 More than 45% of visuals featuring South Asians are in business scenarios, while less than 1% of visuals show Asian people taking part in leisure activities or cultural aspects of everyday life. When British Asian people are shown at work, representation still doesn’t reflect reality: Asian women are often shown as a team player or a colleague, while less than 1% of South Asian women are seen as leaders.
In fact, British Chinese workers have higher average earnings than their white British counterparts, and 12.8% of people of Chinese descent are in professional and managerial occupations, the second highest after people of Indian descent.5 
So when visualizing Asian people at work, consider a wider variety of roles and scenarios. For example: in managerial or leadership roles, as small business owners, or as educators. 
With the over‑representation of Asian people shown in working scenarios, the age demographic is one‑dimensional: children and teens are missing in trending visuals. Less than 10% of visuals feature Chinese children while over half of visuals feature young adults. Currently, 10.5% of Chinese households have multigenerational families,6 however, less than 1% of trending visuals represent multigenerational Chinese families. So, it’s especially important to think about representing the British Asian community in authentic lifestyle, leisure, and family scenarios.

To celebrate the unique stories of British Asian communities, brands and marketers must create a deeper engagement with their audience and not be limited by stereotypes pervasive in the media. Getty Images has created the Asian British Representation toolkit, offering more in‑depth visual analysis, curated boards, and recommendations for visual storytelling to help improve their representation of British Asian communities.  
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