One of the aspects I love about my job as an employment lawyer is the variety each day brings. Every time I think I have finally seen everything under the sun (and believe me, I have heard a few stories that would make your toes curl) a client calls to tell about something an employee has done which even Stephen King and EL James working together could never have imagined! The flip side of this is that very little shocks me any more. Disappointed maybe, but not surprised. I am sure most HR professionals will feel the same way.
However, the stat that 30% of staff who have witnessed or experienced racial harassment in the work place say it has happened in the last year definitely falls into that 'disappointed' category. Especially when you read the specific examples or harassment cited. This is not your subtle or indirect discrimination which can be hard to prove but is explicit and in-your-face.
We live in an increasingly multi-cultural society and these sorts of comments and behaviour are just not acceptable. More importantly for employers, they are also completely unlawful and any business that tolerates, permits, or turns a blind eye to this sort of behaviour is exposing itself to significant financial and reputational risk. Especially when it is considered that the individual's making the alleged comments can also be sued in their individual capacity.
For any business or manager who thinks there could be a problem with discrimination in their workplace: it should come as a relief there are steps that can be taken to reduce this risk and also to promote a healthy and equal working environment. Clear company policies on equality and what is and is not acceptable is essential. Training for all staff on those expectations will also help. Finally, robust and consistent disciplinary action taken against those who fall short is a must. If you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to begin as the 'banter' culture is so ingrained, try drawing a line in the sand and saying "no more", before outlining what the new expectation is. That has to be better than simply turning a blind eye and hoping for the best.
Needless to say, if anyone wants help just let me know!
Around 30% of staff who've witnessed or experienced racial harassment in the workplace say it's happened in the past year, a new survey suggests.It also found that 55% of BAME (black, Asian and minority) employees said they felt like a valued member of the team, compared to 71% of white workers.The charity, Business in the Community, got the views of more than 24,000 people about race at work.