Racial Harassment at Work On the Rise in U.K.

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The Race at Work, a report from Business in the Community, is the largest ever survey of race issues at work. A report based 24,000 responses, it finds that three out of 10 (30 percent) employees in the U.K. had witnessed or experienced racial harassment in the workplace in the last year, an increase from previous years. This report provides greater understanding of the issues around the under-representation of ethnic minorities in the workplace and at senior levels. Fifty-five  percent of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers said they felt they are a valued member of their team, compared to 71 percent of white employees.

Currently, in the U.K., BAME employees are under-represented at every management level in the workplace. One in eight of the working age population is from a BAME background, yet only one in ten are in the workplace and only one in 16 top management positions is held by an ethnic minority person. British people with a BAME background are more likely to enjoy their work, but are less likely to be rated as top performers, compared to their white counterparts. This section of society is more likely to enjoy their work and have far greater ambition than their white colleagues. Sixty-four percent of BAME and 41 percent of white employees in the survey said it is important that they progress.

BAME employees are less satisfied with their experiences of management and progression than white employees: just over half of the survey respondents feel that they are working as part of a team. The lack of role models in the workplace is particularly stark for Black Caribbean—just 11 percent—and is seven percent for other Black group employees, with Chinese and Mixed race employees lacking role models both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Race at Work report has four main calls to action for the government to find solutions to this issue. 1) Wants commitment to ensure that during 2016 the U.K. Corporate Governance Code’s definition of diversity for listed companies includes ‘and race’; currently it is defined as ‘diversity, including gender’. 2) To use its procurement spending power to make sure businesses that tender for public contracts can demonstrate a commitment to racial diversity. 3) Draw up a policy framework on race to promote good practice and close the persistent unemployment gap. 4) To consider commissioning a review into race equality in the workplace with focus on promotions at senior management levels.

U.K. workplaces today might be comfortable talking about age and gender, but are less comfortable talking about race. It is clear employers need to have more confidence to address the issue of race at work and to understand how it has an impact on the individual and their opportunity to reach their full potential. The findings of this report are worrying, as incidents of racial harassment and bullying appear to be on the rise. It calls for immediate action.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia