Whether overt or through unconscious bias, we know that racism still occurs in the workplace. Organisations need to provide ethnic minority employees with safe channels to express their voice and share their experiences. An equality, diversity and inclusion sub-group can help enable this. The benefits of specific EDI sub-group are numerous, from galvanising action and challenging poor practice to fostering a broader climate of inclusion within the organisation and bridging the gap between co-workers and senior leaders. For employees, an EDI sub-group can provide a sense of belonging and community and an opportunity to work with the organisation to bring about change. For an organisation, EDI sub-group’s can be a valuable resource to advise on the work experience of people with that particular characteristic, identity, or background, and act as a sounding board for ideas – including your products and services.

Recommendations

  • Set up an EDI Sub Group to provide a safe, supportive space for people to meet – a place that allows them to have a consistent, clear voice. Encourage non-ethnic-minority active allies to join.
  • Resource the EDI Sub Group and ensure that it’s supported by senior executives.
  • Actively consult with the EDI Sub Group, inviting them to contribute their views from their lived experience in both society and as an employee of the organisation. An EDI Sub Group can be an invaluable resource to advise and inform organisational decisions while helping HR ensure that the people management approach is as inclusive as possible.
  • However, there must not be the expectation that the EDI Sub Group will solve the organisation’s problems or ‘teach’ the rest of the organisation.
  • Employees should also be aware of formal whistleblowing processes so they know they have a voice mechanism, no matter what.
  • Facilitate training to ensure that employees better understand issues of institutional racism. Encourage employees to learn how to talk about and address racism in the workplace – however uncomfortable it may make them feel.
  • Consider ways to raise visibility and awareness of diverse cultures, background and circumstance. Give people time and space to share their stories if they want to, and learn about other cultures and other people’s experiences. For example, encourage staff to attend events organised by the EDI Sub Group or ‘lunch and learn’ sessions run by HR.
  • Make educational materials available and encourage personal responsibility for developing knowledge and racial literacy.