Anti-Racism in The Workplace – Are We Doing Enough?
People often confuse the term anti-racism with the concept that it is to create an inclusive environment with no racism. While we strive for a world where racism is abolished and we are all free to enjoy any aspect of life we choose, the only way we will get there is to promote anti-racism. Anti-racism is defined as the proactive action AGAINST racism, rather than the passive action of non-racism. In order to stamp out racism completely, we need to fight it, and this is why it is vital that every workplace does its bit to bring anti-racism into the workplace. What Are Your Current Anti-Racism Work Policies?
Whether you are in a role of leadership or just a new employee, you should have a good idea of what your current equality and diversity work policies are. Some may be a single page of bullet points stating behaviour that won’t be tolerated at work while others might simply be a statement of “we advocate an inclusive workplace”. If this sounds like the kind of work policies, you have at present then you need to drastically rethink just how anti-racist your company is being. Your business has a corporate social responsibility to strive for a more inclusive environment for all and an anti-racist stance in the workplace.
The Equality Act in Action
The Equality Act of 2010 was put into place to protect those from discrimination and inequality. There are 8 protected characteristics which are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. These characteristics are protected by the Act from discrimination, either direct or indirect, from harassment and from victimisation. While race is a key protected characteristic, the Equality Act mentions little of anti-racism which can lead to confusion for many businesses who don’t know the difference between anti-racism and non-racism. This Act is relevant to all areas of business, particularly employee rights, and will mould your equality and anti-racism policies.
What Should We Be Doing in The Workplace to Combat Anti-Racism?
• Diverse Recruitment The most impactful way to combat anti-racism in the workplace is to show a diverse leadership team and provide a strong example of a diverse talent pool of employees. In order to achieve this, you need to put diversity at the forefront of your recruitment process. It is possible to state in job advertisements that you encourage people from more diverse backgrounds, and this won’t contravene any elements of the Equality Act.
You should try to create a diverse recruitment panel which will help to provide a balanced view in the interview room. This will also help show potential candidates that you are a company that takes diversity seriously and this in turn will make for a more welcoming environment where an interviewee could thrive. Remember that lived experience is often better than education and by broadening your search criteria, you might just find the perfect candidate.
• Creating an Inclusive Corporate Culture It is vital to create an inclusive corporate culture within your business, although this does take time and effort to implement. Employees feel happier in an environment where their culture is celebrated, where they feel part of a community and where they believe they are all working towards the same goal. In order to create an inclusive corporate culture, we recommend investing time and money into a Culture Champion.
A Culture Champion is a member of staff (or a group of several staff) who’s main focus is to instil a sense of community within the business and build on that culture. Your Culture Champion will need to get to know your staff, highlighting any specific cultural identities and needs that they may have and finding a way to celebrate that as a team.
• Investing Heavily on Training A key way to ensure that you are providing an anti-racist workplace is to make sure that all of your employees are on the same page. In order for this to happen you need to train your staff to understand why exclusivity and exclusion is wrong. Many employers feel that they are already doing this by offering yearly unconscious bias training, asking employees to reread their Equality Policies and ensuring that they occasionally add in a “cultural acknowledgement” day for good measure. This is not enough!
When we say you need to invest in training, we mean REALLY invest. Find a consultant who can come into your business with fresh eyes and identify any issues you have. Use their knowledge to build a comprehensive training plan that promotes allyship and anti-racist attitudes within your corporate culture. Ensure that you stay up to date with relevant information relating to race and never think that you have hit your “diversity quota”. By investing in your training and your staff’s attitude towards allyship, you will soon see a more positive impact on your corporate culture.
• Ensuring Allyship Is Built from The Top Down Now that you have a positive corporate culture, you have created a diverse workforce and you have trained your team to truly understand the difference between anti-racism, now it is time to work on your Allyship. Building a level of trust and accountability starts at the very top with leadership and management teams. By providing a strong and clear message that you will not stand for exclusion or racism, you are strengthening the bond of allyship across your whole business. Be the leader people want to emulate and show them that your business stands for anti-racism.
So how do you think your workplace has fared? Do you feel like your company has an anti-racism stance within its workplace? Do you think that there is a great deal your company could be doing to ensure that racism is stamped out for good? Business is like a beacon to the wider world, they look to businesses to find out the next trends, a glimpse into future technologies and a view of the wider social landscape. Let’s make that projection one that fights for anti-racism and promotes allyship.