New Report Shows Racism In Britain’s Workplaces Still Exists

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – It is almost 50 years since the UK Race Relations Act was amended to outlaw racial discrimination in employment. Yet a hard-hitting new report commissioned by Business in the Community finds that racial inequality is still an ugly and resilient feature of work life in Britain.

Ethnic minority workers are frequently subjected to racism by their colleagues, managers, customers, clients and service users, which can have a severe impact on their emotional and psychological wellbeing. The survey data collected by YouGov and examined by researchers at The University of Manchester calls for employers to take urgent action to identify and stamp out racist behaviour in the workplace.

“I defy anyone not to be saddened and shocked by the University of Manchester’s findings. The UK needs to sit up, listen and take action,” said Sandra Kerr OBE, Race Equality Director at Business in the Community.

The report called, Equality, Diversity and Racism in the workplace: A qualitative analysis of the 2015 Race at Work Survey, builds on the 2015 Race at Work survey that investigated accounts from 24,457 workers of racist harassment or bullying at work, and how their employers promote equality, diversity and fairness. It reveals that some white British employees suggested that activities promoting equality and diversity favor ethnic minority employees with preferential treatment, strongly suggesting that there is still much to be done.

These findings reinforce the need for employers to take immediate action against the entrenched nature of racism and racial inequality. The study clearly shows that the promotion of equality and diversity is at best inconsistent, and in some cases, non-existent. Plus, racism was also reported to have a negative impact on people’s careers in terms of recruitment and reducing opportunities for additional training and promotion.

The report recommends a variety of initiatives from commissioning research that explores the ways in which employers are fulfilling their equality duties (or not) and how employers respond to instances of racism in the workplace, to proposals for an annual government review into the nature and scale of racism in the workplace and racial inequality in labour market participation. It also proposes eliminating the costs of employment tribunals as a means of empowering employees to challenge racism at work and addressing issue of ‘language proficiency’ in ways that protect rights of ethnic minority workers.

Dr. Stephen Ashe and Professor James Nazroo from The University of Manchester, authors of the report, ask for employers across all sectors to deliver an unequivocal zero-tolerance approach to racism in both policy and practice. They want the government to deliver ring-fenced funding to support the Equality and Human Rights Commission and scrap financial legal costs for employees seeking to challenge racism through employment tribunals.

Once again, the same questions are being raised: does the current government have the political will to ensure that employers comply with existing legislation and equality duties, and to apply heavy sanctions against employers in cases of non-compliance?

Photo Credit: Manchester University