What is Racial Profiling in the Workplace?

Written by Calvin
Last updated March 27, 2023

Racial profiling in the workplace commonly occurs to members of the BAME community in the U.K. and across the world. It is a particularly damaging form of workplace discrimination that can bring great deals of stress and personal upset to those involved. Racial profiling should never take place in the workplace and is illegal under U.K. employment and equality law. 

In this blog, we want to discuss this topic in more detail, looking at what racial profiling in the workplace is, how we can fight against it, and where to go to escape it as much as possible.

What is Racial Profiling?

Racial profiling occurs when an individual person or group of people is targeted because of their race. They are suspected of committing or intending to commit offences purely because of their race, ethnicity, or heritage and not because of specific evidence or genuine motive. 

For example, racial profiling might take place among a shop’s employees. If a manager notices that stock has gone missing and immediately calls their only black members of staff in for questioning, allowing all other employees to go home, this is an act of racial profiling in the workplace.

For another example, a black member of staff may realise they are the only member of staff (MOS) given a “buddy” to help total up the cash register at the end of the night. Every other MOS is allowed to carry out this task alone. This implies that the black employee is not trusted because of their race and so this is another instance of racial profiling in the workplace. 

This kind of profiling is deeply hurtful to the employees involved. It can cause shame and mental health effects as they navigate being wrongly accused and targeted.

Race Discrimination

Racial profiling is a subsection of race-based discrimination. Race is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act of 2010, meaning that it is illegal for any employee to be discriminated against because of their race at work. It also means that employees should be specifically protected from such discrimination by their employees under their duty of care. 

Discrimination can take place in a few different ways, including… 

  • Direct or indirect discrimination – putting someone at a disadvantage and treating them less favourably because of their protected characteristic. In this case, race. 
  • Harassment – when unwanted behaviour or bullying occurs due to a protected characteristic
  • Victimisation – when someone is treated differently because they made or supported a complaint related to a protected characteristic, or because they are suspected of doing so, which can also be an instance of profiling 

Any instance of racial discrimination should be treated seriously and with the utmost care. If you are experiencing discrimination at work, know that you are entitled to challenge this and take it further with the relevant processes. No one should accept discrimination or allow it to fly under the radar, even though it can be a difficult challenge to deal with. 

Our Tips for Dealing with Discrimination at Work

As discrimination at work is so difficult to deal with, we have compiled some important tips that can help you get through. They are as follows: 

Know your rights

Know your rights and read about the Equality Act and how it relates to you at work. This way you can fully understand what is going wrong and what should be happening instead. 

Get Evidence

Take as much evidence as you can. Write down the dates and times of everything that has happened and been said. Try and get witness statements and impartial evidence wherever possible. 

Open Communication

Discuss any uncomfortable instances as quickly as possible with a manager or member of HR. Rather than waiting for things to worsen, tackle any discrimination as soon as you see it. This can nip things in the bud and allow a satisfactory result to come more quickly. 

Get Advice

Gather as much advice as you can. Speak to Citizen’s Advice, the EASS, solicitors, friends, family, and colleagues to make sure you have every resource available to you that you need. Dealing with racial profiling is not an easy task and you will need as much support as you can get for the process ahead. 

Look After Yourself

Consider your well-being during this journey. Consider how your mental and physical health are affected and what you need for extra support right now. Speaking with your GP is a great starting point. 

Consider a New Job

Find a new job if you cannot get the results or changes you want in your current place of employment. Even if you win your case, you may feel uncomfortable being in the same environment or around the same people. You can find a job that is inclusive, safe, and anti-racist via our inclusive job board on Aspiring to Include

While dealing with discrimination is not an easy thing to do, it is always the right thing to do. If you are the target of racial profiling in the workplace, this is always unfair and always illegal. Speaking up about it protects you and future employees in your workplace too. 

Always stand up for your rights at work but look after yourself while you do so. 

Find Anti-Racist Opportunities

As we have mentioned, racial profiling in the workplace may make you want to find a new opportunity. The best way to avoid a reoccurrence of such uncomfortable situations is to find an anti-racist employer who actively supports their employees and protects them from discrimination. 

You can find these employers via our directory of inclusive employers. You can see the best employers for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the U.K. and what jobs they have to offer. 

We also have lots of resources specifically created for the BAME community. These cover a wide range of topics including the BAME employment gap, BAME women in work, and support and resources that may be of use to you. 

Everyone deserves to work somewhere they will be treated fairly and seen as an equal employee. If this is what you want, check out our tools and resources to find the best working environment for you. 

Any other questions? Chat with us directly

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Last Updated: Monday June 5 2023
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