BAME employees can face a high level of discrimination and bias in the workplace. The category includes many people across the U.K. and within this significant number, a significant number again have experienced such instances.
It is important to remember that the discrimination BAME employees face is not only a topic to be discussed and tackled within the BAME community. We should all accept our own responsibility in this situation and do whatever we can to prevent, tackle, and draw attention to it ourselves.
One of the best ways people outside the BAME community can help BAME employees in the workplace is allyship. Being an active ally helps in many different ways. Ultimately, it provides people within the BAME community with support and backup. Something that goes a long way regarding workplace discrimination and bias.
At Aspiring to Include, we believe in the power of allyship. Therefore, we have written this blog to talk some more about how you can be an ally to BAME employees you employ or work with as colleagues.
Let’s start by defining what exactly allyship is.
What Does it Mean to Be an Ally?
Being an ally means you support and stand up for people in a community you are not part of. For example, you can be an ally to the LGBTQ community if you are a heterosexual person but you stand up for gay rights and support important issues within the community. Or you can be an ally to the BAME community if you are a white person who supports the community and stands up proactively to tackle important issues and problems.
Being an ally is saying, “I am not the same as you, but I believe in your value and I support you”. It is also acknowledging that you have certain societal privileges that the other person may not have. Then, using your own privilege for good. For example, you might know that your boss only listens to white people, so you use your voice to make an official complaint about discrimination you see happening in your workplace, even though it isn’t happening to you. You use what you have for the good of others.
Being an ally to BAME employees in work is incredibly important. Let’s turn to talking about why this is the case.
Why Do BAME Employees Need Allies?
BAME people experience more exclusion, discrimination and bias than white people in the workplace. That is something that has been statistically proven time and time again and doesn’t seem to change too much despite the progress we have made as a society.
Right from the early stages of recruitment to disciplinary procedures and dismissals, BAME voices go unheard in the world of work. They may be directly discriminated against, indirectly discriminated against, harassed, victimized, the victims of unconscious bias, and simply ignored.
If a member of the BAME community speaks out about the treatment they or another member of their community has faced, it is unlikely they will be properly listened to and respected if the person they are talking to has committed the discrimination in the first place. In fact, it sometimes has the opposite of the desired effect. However, if white people are discriminated against less and listened to more (which, unfortunately, they often are), then white people have a unique opportunity to use this societal power to help the marginalised group in question.
Being an ally allows you to bring important issues to light. It gives BAME employees the backup they need to have their complaints heard. It also holds the people in power accountable in a way that means they can’t hide their discrimination or bury it in the sand. Allyship brings everything to light.
Allies can’t stop discrimination from happening, but they can help prevent it as much as possible and deal with it appropriately when it does happen. They can help BAME employees feel less isolated when dealing with systemic problems they’ve dealt with their whole lives.
How to Be an Ally
If you want to be an ally for BAME employees and colleagues in your life, here are some steps you can take.
- Learn as much as you can about important issues within the BAME community. Understand the importance of events such as Black History Month and gain a deeper awareness of topics such as unconscious bias and intersectionality. You have not lived the same experience and so learning as much as you can about it from people who have will give you a better chance of making the right choices going forward.
- Help BAME voices be heard. One of the most common things BAME people experience is being ignored and spoken over. If you see this happening in the workplace, support your colleagues in having their thoughts and opinions heard. Challenge your non-BAME colleagues when they do interrupt and ignore people in this community. Call out bad behaviour when you see it.
- Attend BAME events. You don’t have to be part of a community to support them. If there is an event, fundraiser or anything where your support will be appreciated, reach out and join in.
- Report discrimination when you see it. If you see anything unscrupulous going on around you, always report it, even though it isn’t happening to you. Use your privilege for good and take some of the stress and strain away from those experiencing discrimination.
- Share your learning with others. Share appropriate terms, explain reactions, and provide awareness to your white colleagues, friends and family wherever you can. Allow others to be more inclusive and less discriminatory via learning and awareness. This might include sharing posts such as this one online with your network.
- If you are an employer, stay strong with your protocols on discrimination and your policies for inclusion. Create an inclusive and diversity-positive environment where BAME employees can feel safe from harm. Recruit inclusively and challenge your own internal unconscious biases too.
- If you are an employee or jobseeker, only work for employers who do what we have described above. Only take your business to inclusive employers who provide equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.
Where to Find Inclusive Working Environments
If you are someone who either wants to be an ally or would benefit from allyship, the best way to find this at work is through us right here at Aspiring to Include.
Our inclusive job board and directory of diversity-positive employers will point you in the direction of the best people to work for in the U.K.
You can also use all of our guidance for job seekers to learn about important topics such as your rights at work and funding opportunities. Knowing as much as you can about the support available helps your diverse job search become a lot easier.
We believe everyone deserves a supportive working environment. Let us help you find yours.