Here’s a chilling statistic for you. It is normal for 75% of ethnic minorities to experience racism in the workplace. Just let that sink in for a minute. For three quarters of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population discrimination at work is a normal experience. This is one of the outputs of research conducted by Green Park and The Collaboratory and has led to their creation of the UK’s first racial Equality Week due to get started on Monday 1st February.
It comes at a time of hope following the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US. For those of you who missed it please take six minutes with a cuppa to listen to Amanda Gorman’s poem from last week’s ceremony.
Race Equality Week has a simple message – let’s not go back to normal. This sentiment dovetails beautifully with the thrust of the ‘Hill I Climb’ poem, which also includes the line “we seek harm to none and harmony for all”. Next week across the country senior leaders will meet with staff to build their understanding of the challenges, barriers and issues in a series of ‘safe space’ conversations. These will culminate in a collection of Big Promises made between employers and employees about the changes they will make. I will be watching keenly to see whether these words turn into actions and if your employer is taking part I encourage you to do so as well.
For those of you whose employer may have missed the boat worry not. The intention is for this to become an annual cycle of conversations and commitment so ask your organisation ‘why are we not taking part in this’. It is an especially powerful challenge if it is raised by allies rather than People of Colour.
As someone who has experienced racism from childhood, I can assure you that the many statistics you have read and comments you have heard are not only very likely to be true they are most probably understated. The goal of most campaigners on this agenda is not to tip the balance of the scales but merely to achieve equilibrium.
So if this short post has encouraged you to find out what more you can personally do I suggest a visit to the Race Equality Matters website. I’ll leave you with Amanda’s words:
“But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright…
…In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”