Racism in the workplace - what to watch out for

Racism in the workplace - what to watch out for


  • Date: Thursday 25th June 2020
  • PDF: Download

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign has once again shone a light on discrimination and as employers, now could be a good time to review the way you do things, to ensure that you are complying with the law and maintaining ethical working practices.

Does your policy reflect reality?

Most organisations have an ‘Equal Opportunities’ policy in place. But have you actually read yours? Do you understand it? Does it reflect what you do in practice? Employment tribunals will scrutinise your documentation, so we strongly recommend you familiarise yourself with your procedures and amend any that don’t apply. Don’t forget: it’s YOUR policy!

Have you provided training to your staff?

This applies to briefing out your policy and making sure people understand it, as well as providing more in-depth equality training, which your staff may find useful.

Training doesn’t have to be preachy or stuffy – sessions should be engaging and enlightening and leave the delegate with the feeling that they have learnt something.

Equality training should focus on language and workplace behaviours, the Equality Act 2010 and its interpretation and identifying what is ‘bullying’ or ‘harassment’.

If you are interested in one of our online or face-to-face courses, please get in touch.

Are you in control of your culture?

Banter is important. We all want to have fun at work and not take ourselves too seriously. Just make sure that this isn’t at the expense of others. By providing training on what is and isn’t acceptable, you have already set the foundations.

However, you must now enforce the rules and call out anyone who takes things too far. Not necessarily through formal proceedings – a quiet chat in the first place might be enough. But do it immediately and be very clear on the behaviours you don’t want to see.

Follow up on concerns

A grievance doesn’t have to be submitted on a form for it to be a grievance. If you receive an email or letter or even a text message off someone who doesn’t feel comfortable with the way they’ve been treated, you must act immediately!

Ask them if they want to log an official grievance or if they want to have an informal chat instead. Maybe some mediation between individuals can help? Or maybe a general reminder of ‘the way we do things’? In any case, acknowledging the complaint is vitally important.

Don’t be afraid to call a spade a spade

In our training courses, we have a caveat: we will use potentially offensive words, but they are being used in a training context and are not meant to cause upset.

When speaking to your staff, sugar-coating language isn’t always helpful and sometimes it makes things much easier to understand if we demonstrate the language or behaviour that we don’t like. Make sure you explain that this is being done in an educational context.

All opinions are valid

In line with point 5, we must recognise that limits of acceptance range depending on the person and their background. If someone feels uncomfortable, they have every right to and we should teach staff empathy and tolerance. Don’t judge if someone feels more offended by certain language – it doesn’t make them weak or humour-less!

Source: Manuela Grossmann


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