How to Identify and Report Racism At Work

Written by Calvin
Last updated October 21, 2021

Racism at work towards the BAME community, unfortunately, remains common across the UK workforce, both in recruitment and employment. 

Many BAME people face unnecessary discrimination, bias and exclusion in the world of work, despite this being an illegal practice under the Equality Act of 2010. We might think that workplace racism will always be obvious and shocking, however, recognising racism can often be difficult. Racism can be subtle, covert and easily covered up. Even when it is overt, it can be very difficult to deal with and even to report based on larger contexts at play.

Identifying and reporting racism is very important. Despite how tricky it can often be, we mustn’t shy away from the matter but rather tackle it head-on. We need to learn how to identify and report racism at work so that we can be an ally to other members of staff. and help reduce instances of discrimination as a whole. 

On this page, we’re going to try and help with this cause by providing a guide on how you can identify and report racism in your workplace

What Is Institutional Racism?

Institutional racism occurs when BAME people are disproportionately disadvantaged when compared to others on a large scale. There are both visible and subtle ways in which institutional racism takes place and it’s rife within workplaces across the country.

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
  • Stereotyping and racial profiling
  • Religious discrimination
  • Exclusion from social events and peer bonding
  • Being blocked from promotions and general hiring
  • Being excluded from jobs before they have even reached an interview due to name and background bias
  • Physical assault and attacks
  • False allegations
  • General workplace bullying

Overall, racism takes place in the workplace when people from the BAME community are treated as lesser than others from different ethnicities. It happens when they’re bullied and when they’re held back from opportunities only because of their race. If a BAME person feels targeted and singled out at work, this is very likely because of racism and, at the very least, unconscious bias

What To Do If You Experience Racism in the Workplace

It’s 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 racism. Always keep copies of any letters that you send – you will need them if you want to take your case further.

If you’ve 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). They offer free, confidential help and support for the BAME community experiencing racial discrimination at work. The EASS helpline is 0808 800 0082.

If your employer doesn’t 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. You can read more about this via the government page

How to Support BAME Candidates in the Workplace

If you’re an employer, you have a duty to support and protect your employees at work. You also have a responsibility to treat all applicants to your job postings with respect and equality. You must know how to support BAME candidates in the workplace so that instances of discrimination and bias can be significantly reduced. 

Our tips for employers include:

  • Providing workers with a safe space to talk and offer suggestions for dealing with racism
  • Creating an action plan where you work together with BAME employees on how best to deal with racism, such as calling out racist statements and reporting them
  • Talking openly with all staff about BAME issues, delivering relevant training and learning, and encouraging all colleagues to speak out about racist comments or behaviour, not just BAME employees 
  • Providing adequate representation during recruitment processes so that BAME candidates get a fair chance of being hired for the job
  • Challenging your own unconscious biases and commit to learning more about the BAME experience at work 
  • Celebrating diversity by encouraging BAME events in the workplace.
  • Having a firm and visible no-tolerance policy on any event of discrimination and bias and dealing with any altercations swiftly and appropriately 

It takes both sides of the equation to work together for workplaces to achieve true diversity and inclusion. If you’re an employer, check out more of our guides and resources to find out how to be a diversity-positive employer who supports BAME members of staff

Where to Find Inclusive Working Environments as a Diverse Jobseeker

Do you want to find a working environment where you don’t have to deal with racism and discrimination? Your best bet is to look for a diversity-positive employer who pays attention to equality, diversity, and inclusion at work.

Luckily for you, we only work with this type of employer here at Aspiring to Include

You can use our inclusive job board and directory of accessible employers to find discrimination-free employment opportunities in your area. 

Check out our many guides and resources designed to help and support BAME job seekers and employees in their search for happy and safe employment. Read about your rights at work, support for BAME women, intersectionality, and much more.

For anything else you need – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Last Updated: Monday January 29 2024
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