Racism towards the BAME community and institutional racism are topics that we hear a lot about in the news. But what does it look like in the workplace? Jobseekers can face racism when they get to an interview or at work – this guide will help you identify and report these incidents.
Recognising racism is difficult. It could be subtle, like a racist comment from your manager, or it might be overt. If you are in any doubt about whether something has been said or done to discriminate against someone because of their race, make sure you report it.
What is Institutional Racism
Institutional racism occurs when BAME people are disproportionately disadvantaged when compared to others. For example, a job advertisement could not state that they only want candidates from a specific background because it would be easier for someone from the same community to do this role.
Racism can take many forms in the workplace, and those from the BAME community and BAME workers may experience:
– verbal abuse or name-calling, such as using offensive words or disrespectful behaviour towards others; bullying if you are BAME
– comments such as “I’m not racist, but…”; disbelief that workers can do certain jobs if they are BAME; jokes about being lazy or incompetent.
– comments made about religion or belief
What to do if you experience racism in the workplace
It is very important to report any racism that you experience at work or in an interview, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal at first. This way, BAME advisors and other BAME support organisations can look into how often this happens and take action against those responsible. You could end up saving others from facing the same situation.
If you or a colleague experience racism in the workplace, you should:
- Respond and tell them that it is not acceptable
- Speak to someone you trust and report it. This could be your manager, HR department or trade union representative if there is one where you work
- Make a formal complaint using your company’s grievance procedure
- Report the incident to ACAS
Make a note of what happened and where it happened – this is important if you need to report the racism. Always keep copies of any letters that you send – you will need them if you want to take your case further.
If you have been treated less favourably at work because of race in the workplace, you can make a formal complaint under the Equality Act 2010. This is called making a claim for discrimination on the grounds of race (or other protected characteristics). You will need to contact ACAS for advice on making a claim.
You can also contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) for free, confidential help and support if you are from the BAME community in the workplace experiencing race discrimination. The EASS helpline is 0808 800 0082.
If your employer does not take action against those who are being racist in the workplace, you can claim an employment tribunal. Make sure that your claim is submitted within three months of experiencing racism at work.
How to support BAME candidates in the workplace
- Provide workers with a safe space to talk and offer suggestions for dealing with racism; create an action plan where you work together on how best to deal with racism, such as calling out racist statements or reporting them.
- If you’re a manager/boss, then talk openly with your staff about BAME issues and encourage colleagues to speak out about racist comments or behaviour. You should also ensure that you provide BAME workers with the same opportunities as others.
- Provide adequate representation during recruitment processes so that BAME candidates get a fair chance of being hired for the job. This will help reduce discrimination at the recruitment stage.
For more information on the benefits of employing BAME candidates, your rights as a BAME worker, and other support, visit our resource hub, sign up for our newsletter and visit our inclusive jobs board!