Four ways to combat racism at work

At Diversity Network’s INCLUSION Festival broadcasting online from 1 to 5 July, hear four experts discuss how you can most effectively support racial minorities in your workplace.

1 Call out aggressions and share stories

“If we do nothing about racism, the dial won’t just say the same, it will go back,” says Trevor Sterling, Senior Partner at Moore Barlow, who is only one of two senior legal partners in the UK who is black. Trevor hosts a podcast interviewing inspiring figures from diverse backgrounds: “It is important for me to be my authentic self and not to change to try and fit in,” says Trevor about being a role model at work. “If you point the finger at people who are racist, they will clam up. But showing stories and sharing experiences is really important to break down racial barriers. That’s why I do the podcast.

“The other thing is to call out micro-aggressions. Things like when people say ‘You can’t get a tan can you?’ It happens to me every time I get back from holiday. Or another one – ‘You don’t blush, do you?’

“It is a level of ignorance that has an impact on me.”

2 Work hard to retain colleagues

Justin Placide is Co-Chair of the Civil Service Race Forum. “How black people are perceived in senior leadership positions is important. There have been several FTSE 100 leaders who have stepped down from their roles because they haven’t received the support to thrive to be great leaders. It sends a message internally to the organisation of, ‘Well, we tried, it didn’t work’, but, worse, it sends a message outside the board for those coming up behind who say, ‘If they haven’t made it, what hope do I have?’

“We have to think about retaining talent – removing barriers of internal recruitment and encouraging staff to progress in an organisation.”

3 Remove bias 

“A lack of diversity is often because of a lack of understanding especially in the education sector,” says Aldaine Wynter is Director of International-Mindedness, Diversity and Inclusion at Washington International School in the US. “There is a lack of diversity within teachers as well as senior leadership teams in both the state and private education sector.

“I have always been the most senior black leader at most of the organisations I’ve been at.

“I happen to have my Masters from UCL in maths and physics so I was deemed talented enough to teach it and then offered senior leadership roles rather than being offered pastoral care roles.

“If I had been a graduate of a different subject or from a different university, I might not have been given that first chance.”

4 Be accountable and take action

Samuel Clague is the Founder of The Stephen James Partnership: “My perspective in the UK with legal and professional services is that there was a huge wave of momentum after George Floyd but fast-forward four years and a lot of those pledges haven’t been actioned. I can see this through data and also through talking to organisations: this year I have had 12 to 15 conversations with organisations who were pro-racial diversity but are now telling me their staff are tired of talking about diversity and ‘haven’t black people had enough of the spotlight?’

“A lot of things have tailed off and we are hearing things we may not wish necessarily to hear.

“A lot of it comes down to accountability and action.”

Hear the panel discuss supporting racial minorities in the workplace on 1 July at our INCLUSION Festival:

  • Why are organisations still lagging behind when it comes to racial equity?
  • Examples of microaggressions and whey they are so damaging
  • What will it take to create a more level playing field at work for people from all backgrounds, races and cultures around the world?
  • In the meantime, what can we do to help?

Register for your ticket here:

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