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Practical Ways to Tackle Racism in The Workplace

By Associate, Employment

More than a third of black and minority ethnic workers have experienced racism at work, according to a recent study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

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Incidents included being bullied, abused and singled out for unfair treatment, the survey of 1,000 people found.

More than 43 per cent did not feel able to report discrimination to their employers and 38 per cent did not report incidents of bullying and harassment.

It goes without saying that a happy workforce is likely to be a more productive one and inevitably productivity leads to profitability so it also makes good business sense.

Other key findings included almost a fifth (19 per cent) of workers being passed over for promotion or training.

The results of this study are disappointing, but not surprising and what it does demonstrate is that racism is real and very much alive in the workplace. It also highlights the responsibility that the government and employers have to work together to tackle race discrimination and harassment.

What can employers do?

The TUC report suggests a number of recommendations for employers including the following:

  • Ensure they have a strong equality, diversity and dignity policy that explicitly includes zero tolerance for racism. They must make it clear that they will support all staff who raise concerns about racism and act to protect staff who are subjected to racial abuse.
  • Make sure there is a simple method for BME workers to report racism at work, and make sure that BME workers feel confident that complaints about racism will be taken seriously, acted on and dealt with satisfactorily. Make sure that all staff know that workers who raise concerns about racism will not be victimised for doing so.
  • Publish data on BME pay, recruitment, promotion and dismissal; set aspirational targets for diversity at their organisation; and measure progress against those targets annually.
  • Work with trade unions to establish targets and develop positive action measures to address racial inequalities in the workforce.

The above recommendations, if implemented properly, can help create a more inclusive and diverse working culture in which workers feel protected and happy.  It goes without saying that a happy workforce is likely to be a more productive one and inevitably productivity leads to profitability so it also makes good business sense. 

Connecting with and talking to staff from different parts of the business, from different countries, backgrounds and cultures can break down the barriers and enable staff to gain a greater understanding of their colleagues. The hope is that this will foster a more inclusive and tolerant working environment which in turn may reduce the incidents of discrimination at work.

If you suffer with race discrimination at work you can call our employment law solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online. We can offer immediate representation anywhere in the UK for race discrimination cases. Claims for race discrimination must be brought in the employment tribunal within three months less one day of the adverse treatment taking place.

Marsha Thompson is an employment lawyer based in the London office of Slater and Gordon Lawyers. Marsha helps individuals to challenge unfair work practices including issues with race  discrimination.

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