Lasting change will not come from ad-hoc and narrow steps towards promoting race inclusion at work, which can set expectations for change but fail to deliver, sending the message that the organisation isn’t serious about taking action.

Instead, a systemic approach must be adopted to identify and tackle the causes of race inequalities and discrimination at work. Look across the entire organisation, scrutinising all operational processes, ways of working and people management policies.

Identifying the structural, cultural and policy barriers right across the organisation (which are maintaining workplace inequalities) is a crucial step. Action should be steered by data and insight. An evidence-based approach will get to the grassroots of issues and identify where action needs to be focused. The issues and appropriate solutions will differ between organisations, so having a deep understanding of your own business and its context is critical.

Recommendations

  • The organisation’s stance and values should guide the creation of a systemic action plan that is principles-based and outcomes-driven.
  • Ensure your anti-racism strategy and action plan are resourced appropriately, including time, expertise and budget.
  • Action should be evidence-based, steered by data and insight. All business functions, especially people professionals, are likely holding a wealth of unmined data about your workforce make-up, customer base and people’s views of your organisation, which can yield valuable intelligence about the changes needed.
  • It’s likely that useful data sits across many parts of your organisation, and will need to be brought together to create a holistic picture of people’s true work experiences, the experiences of those who interact with your organisation, and those who don’t.
  • If your knowledge of the makeup of your workforce is limited, consider the most appropriate way to gather this data. Ensure your outward engagement is racially inclusive. For example, in marketing and consumer research, make sure ethnic minorities are genuinely consulted. 
  • Think about the extent to which other employers in your supply chain understand and echo your stance/values on diversity and inclusion and request that recruiters, partners and consultants demonstrate diversity within their own organisations.
  • When examining how people’s different experiences at work and their views of your organisation differ, avoid making generalisations
  • Be aware of the complex and interconnected nature of issues that affect people’s work experiences. ‘Intersectionality’ refers to the fact we all have multiple identities which shape our life experiences. We therefore can’t look at diversity and inclusion through entirely separate lenses; we need to be mindful of the potential interplay of overlapping identities.

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