Black Lives Matter - Creating an Anti-Racist Culture
Since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 2020, thousands of individuals across the world have taken part in protests against racism. Protestors in Malvern showed their respects to George Floyd on the weekend of 6th June, and a protest took place in Worcester on 13th June with the Bishop of Worcester, the Dean of Worcester and the University of Worcester all showing their support.
Employees are watching how their organisation responds to the movement and recent events. Many employees still experience racial treatment at work ranging from extreme to subtle or unconscious acts, none of which is acceptable. Employers are therefore called to adopt an anti-racist culture.
Whilst it is important to have an Equal Opportunities Policy, a Bullying and Harassment Policy, and a Grievance Procedure in place, these documents on their own are not always sufficient. Neither is a one-off training day on equality and diversity. A real cultural change can often be required which can not occur over night. The following points may assist a company to ensure that a true anti-racist culture is adopted within their workplace.
1. Social Media Statement
Businesses across the world have taken to social media to issue statements in support of the movement. Employers may wish to consider adding their own statement however it is important that any statement made is backed up by action.
2. Managers and Team Leaders
Managers and Team Leaders should take the following actions:
· Be aware that they are the role models within their company.
· Actively make it clear that any discriminatory or abusive remarks are completely unacceptable. No matter the size of the company, it is important that a statement is made.
· Intervene if they see or hear employees expressing or acting on racist views.
· Handle all incidents through appropriate disciplinary measures.
· Educate themselves about the different cultural backgrounds of employees in their workforce.
· Not try to justify any actions as banter, being aware that tribunal’s often discount this as an argument. The test is how the behaviour was perceived by the victim, not what was intended by the perpetrator.
· Take all reasonable steps to protect employees from racial harassment including from outside sources such as customers and contractors.
3.Examine HR data
HR metrics for recruitment, staff turnover, employee relations cases, exit interviews, pay and internal appointments can all be used to understand the company’s current situation.
This information can be reviewed to highlight any points of concern.
4. Establish employee focus groups and staff surveys
These initiatives will help provide a safe environment for employees to be open about their experiences, and any changes they would like to take place.
5. Ensure all policies are inclusive
Policies focused on recruitment, rewards and benefits, development and employee engagement should be reviewed to ensure that they are inclusive.
It is important to uncover and address barriers that prevent people from fulfilling their potential. Recruitment initiatives to encourage diversity may include:
· Reviewing where job adverts are placed.
· Diverse recruitment panels where possible.
· Focusing on skills and not the educational establishment that was attended.
6. Time off for demonstrations
· Employers may consider relaxing the annual leave policy to show support for employee’s beliefs however a consistent approach should be adopted.
· Companies may decide to modify their corporate social responsibility policy to allow for a specific amount of additional time away from the workplace to attend events such as the BLM protests.
· If any annual leave request is declined, it would be advisable to justify this with a reason to avoid discrimination claims.
How Kerris Crook HR Consultancy Can Help
· Producing new policies or reviewing any current policies
· Advising on and attending bullying and harassment, or grievance claims
· Assisting with the compilation and assessment of HR data
· Leading employee focus groups
· Rolling out staff surveys, presenting results and producing subsequent action plans.