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Race and Ethnicity in the Workplace

Category: Pro-Opinion

diversity in workplace

Divisions between genders, races and ethnicities often exist in the workplace, in part because society as a whole still bears the scars of past injustices.

Diversity is good for business because a range of employees with a range of backgrounds will bring different ideas and enable an employer to appeal to different parts of the marketplace and this contributes to innovation and success.

Career progression should be based on merit and employees from all backgrounds and walks of life should know that they will be able to progress in an organisation in line with their talents and commitment but sometimes the reality in the workplace is very different. Ethnic minorities currently make up 11% of the UK working-age population, 1 in 4 pupils in primary school education in the UK are from an ethnic minority background and Britain's current and future workforce is racially and culturally diverse and progressive employers recognise that it makes good business sense to understand, utilise and grow this pool of talent.

Racial and Ethnicity Discrimination involves treating someone unfavourably because of the person’s race or personal characteristics associated with race. The law forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay and benefits. It is also unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s race. Although an employer may implement a policy that applies to everyone regardless of race or colour, the policy can still be unlawful if it has a negative impact on the employment of people of a particular race or colour, is not related to the job and necessary to the operation of the business and the law also prohibits discrimination against an employee or applicant because of that individual’s national origin.and no individuals can be denied equal employment opportunity because of birthplace, ancestry, culture, linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group, or accent.

How to Prevent Racism in the Workplace

  1. Write an anti-discrimination policy that specifically addresses racism. Include consequences for acts of racism in the workplace
  2. Hire employees from all races and ethnic groups to create a diverse workforce.
  3. Inform job candidates before hiring them of your policy against racism and discrimination in any form.
  4. Promote employees based on merit without considering race or other irrelevant factors. This establishes a system of fair promotions so all employees feel valued.
  5. Hold training at least once a year to remind employees of how to conduct themselves in the workplace
  6. Train employees how to avoid discrimination and racism.
  7. Establish a committee in the workplace that focuses on anti-racism projects. Use the committee to identify potential discrimination issues that might arise at work and begin finding solutions.
  8. Treat all instances of racism the same according to the established policy
  9. Let the victims know you will handle the situation and inform all employees that you wont tolerate the behaviour
  10. Encourage open communication with employees so they are more likely to report racism. Emphasize the importance of reporting racism even if an employee sees it happen to someone else.
  11. Establish an anonymous reporting system that allows employees to report racism without fear of retaliation.
  12. Follow up on reports of racism immediately.

Laws that cover Race and Ethnicity in the Workplace:

  • UK Laws Race Relations Act 1976 and Equality Act 2010
  • European Union Law Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC
  • United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Useful Links:

ACAS: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1849

UK Government Website: https://www.gov.uk/discrimination-your-rights/types-of-discrimination

Citizens Advice: http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Crown Prosecution Service:http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/p_to_r/racist_and_religious_crime/

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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