What Should You Do If You Encounter Racism In The Workplace? Nobody should be experiencing racism or discrimination, whether this is inside or outside the workplace. It’s 2020 and it certainly has no welcome place in society, yet there are still those that are unfortunately prejudiced against, due to the colour of their skin or their beliefs. Everyone from CEO’s down to interns may experience some form of racism in the workplace, and in the past a host of high profile sport stars and celebrities have opened up about their experiences with racism.
In the wake of the murder of
George Floyd at the hands of American police, we have seen global ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests. Once again, instances of racism and inequality in America have caused the global community to focus on the issues present within their own country. In the UK we’ve seen widespread BLM protests. In some instances, protesters have taken matters into their own hands, like in Bristol where protestors tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the sea. We’ve also seen a host of famous faces lending their voices and platform to the protests with actor John Boyega and boxer Anthony Joshua just 2 of the high profile names involved in the mainly peaceful protests.
What is now clear is that globally not enough has been done, or is being done, to address racial inequality. Whilst we can’t control what happens overseas and we can’t really control what happens in our own country, we can set examples in our homes and our workplaces to address racial inequality.
In 2018 we saw high profile incidents on the football pitch where both Raheem Sterling and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang were subjected to racism. The two high-profile incidents followed the release of figures showing that incidents reported to anti-discrimination body Kick It Out had increased for at least the fifth year in a row at that time.
Statistics for the 2017-18 season, published on November 28 2018, showed a 22 percent rise in racist incidents in football games among all British levels. So is this the same for workplaces as well?
At the time, studies showed a huge racial bias in Britain and British recruitment. A study conducted by The Guardian has revealed that young black men are changing their names in order to help with their job search. Some instances have actually seen there application progress once they’ve changed their name. Examples have shown; “Same job – applied with my actual surname and didn’t get a call back, applied with a Christian name and got an interview.”
So what should you do if you experience racism in the workplace? Liam Grime,
Employment Law Consultant at ELAS, discusses what employees and employers should do if they experience racism in their company. “Racism, unfortunately, occurs in life whether that be in our personal or professional lives. With regards to racism in the workplace however, this occurs in different ways, whether that be the less favourable treatment of an employee on the grounds of race, which could amount to discrimination as provided by the Equality Act 2010, or whether employees are being abusive of or bullying a colleague because of their race. “Employers should be advocates of equal opportunity and equality and diversity in the workplace and they have an implied duty to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination, bullying and harassment of their employees, and there are several ways in which they can seek to achieve this. “Having clear policies on equal opportunities and equality and diversity will help send a message to employees that the derogatory treatment of employees on the grounds of their race, or any other protected characteristic, will not be tolerated and that in almost all cases where an employee is accused of such behaviour, this would amount to gross misconduct and could lead to their summary dismissal if found guilty. Employers would do well to provide training on anti-discrimination, bullying and harassment for their employees also. It is particularly important that the training helps employees to identify what constitutes racism and discrimination, harassment and bullying and what the consequences of such actions could be. Training for managers on how to deal with such complaints would also be beneficial. “Should an employee raise a complaint of being subjected to racism, the employer should take the matter very seriously and endeavour to deal with the matter seriously. Complaints of racism would likely come in the form of a formal grievance, and luckily there are set procedures provided by the ACAS Code of Practice to help employers deal with such matters. Following the ACAS Code of Practice, although it has no legal force, will help demonstrate to an employment tribunal that the employer has acted fairly in dealing with such complaints. “Upon receiving the complaint, the employee should be invited into a grievance hearing, with at least 48 hours’ notice and the right to be accompanied. At the hearing the employee is asked to elaborate on their complaint where needed, being as specific as possible, in order to aid the employer in a thorough investigation into the described allegations. Once the investigation has been carried out, its findings are relayed in a written outcome to the employee’s grievance with the right of appeal should they be dissatisfied with it. Should it be found that there was indeed substance to the allegations of racism, the culprit would be subjected to disciplinary action and this could lead to their summary dismissal on the grounds of gross misconduct.”
If your company has experienced multiple examples of racist behaviour, you may wish to educate your entire staff or essential team leaders with a training class. These classes enable staff to recognise the behavioural traits of racist individuals before they impact an employee or colleague.
Equality and Diversity
Given the current global focus on issues of equality and diversity, it’s no longer acceptable for businesses to be seen to be operating in a manner which may be considered as exclusionary in any way. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to ensure that everyone within your organisation is aware of the roles they play when promoting equality and diversity within the workplace.
Our Equality and Diversity training course has been designed with the
Equality Act 2010 in mind and aims to promote positive equality and diversity practices and procedures that can be implemented into any business. As this course is aimed at promoting equality and diversity, we would recommend that this course is is suitable for managerial or supervisory staff. However, it is just as relevant for anyone who has shown an interest in fostering and promoting equality and diversity within your business.