KNOWLEDGE

Racism at work is a multifaceted problem

Morton Fraser Senior Associate Sarah Gilzean
Author
Sarah Gilzean
Senior Associate
PUBLISHED:
20 September 2022
Audience:
Business

A new report published by the TUC has highlighted the continuing problem of racism at work.

In August, the TUC published a report based on extensive polling, which has laid bare the continuing difficulties faced by minority ethnic workers in the workplace.  Forty percent of respondents reported having experienced racism in the workplace in the past five years. 

The report found that the most common types of racial harassment was racist jokes and banter, use of stereotypes, bullying and racist remarks either directed at an individual or said in their presence.  Previous TUC research has shown that black workers face daily racism in the form of being more likely to be disciplined, having low scores on performance appraisals, being given more challenging but less popular tasks and being unfairly criticised.  They are also less likely to have access to training, development opportunities and promotion.  The August report criticises the UK Government's failure to address these issues in its response to the 2022 report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. 

The report highlights that most perpetrators of the racist behaviour were colleagues, including managers.  This is an area where employers can take steps to improve behaviours via good quality training.  A second concern which can be pro-actively addressed by employers is that only 19% of those who experienced racist behaviour reported the incident to their employer.  In many cases the failure to report was because the victim did not believe the issue would be taken seriously.  Concerningly, when incidents were reported, action was taken to prevent future harassment in only 29% of instances.  Again, ensuring managers are properly trained to deal with these types of complaint should improve outcomes, as would ensuring robust procedures are in place and that workers are made aware of those procedures. 

Obviously, these incidents of racism negatively impact on those affected by them.  35% of respondents reported feeling less confident at work, 34% said it made them feel embarrassed and 31% said it had a negative impact on their mental health.  As well as being morally unacceptable, allowing this to continue is bad for business.

Morton Fraser can provide bespoke training for your workforce aimed at preventing discriminatory bullying and harassment and reducing the risk of discrimination claims, including race and sex discrimination.  We can also provide more in-depth training for HR and managers in relation to dealing with discrimination and harassment.  We would be very happy to discuss the costs for provision of this training tailored to your workforce. Please contact innes.clark@morton-fraser.com for further details.  

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