The Race Relations Act 1965 was the first piece of legislation in the UK to address racial discrimination. The Act banned racial discrimination in public places and made the promotion of hatred on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins an offence.
The Act provisions were expanded in 1968 to eradicate racial discrimination with regards to housing and employment.
In 2010 race was defined as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, however, despite this protection race discrimination continues to exist today.
The case of George Floyd which happened earlier this year, has led to anti-racism protests, a day where individuals chose to take a break from social media by using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, sport players kneeling before the commencement of a game and the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Through these movements, racial disparity has come to the forefront of our minds and we must work together to ensure that all individuals are treated with the same level of respect, empathy, and inclusion.
An inclusive workplace requires:
A welcoming workplace culture that treats everyone with respect and dignity, and where employees feel valued.
Organisational policies are in place that provide fairness, equality and human rights.
Employees are aware of the organisation’s inclusive values and are involved in the development of policies.
The workforce is representative of the local community.
All employees are encouraged to develop and progress and any barriers to this are removed.
Unnecessary hierarchies and occupational segregation are discouraged.
An awareness of potential tensions and a proactive appropriate to resolving them.
Inclusive strategies that are supported and promoted by senior leaders.
Whilst as an organisation you can strive to have an inclusive workforce, there may be times that an employee feels that they are not being treated fairly, and are being discriminated against on the grounds of their race. In order to manage these situations, you need to provide your employees with the tools to hold difficult conversations and to support them through the process.
There are five steps to having a difficult conversation:
It is important to take time after these conversations to reflect on how the conversation went and what the learning points are going forward.
Conversations about race in the workplace require time and emotional energy from your employees, but by making this investment, changes can be achieved and you can demonstrate your commitment to equality, providing a work place that is inclusive, whilst adding value for your employees and attracting a wider pool of applicants.