“Racism: A feature of work life in Britain”


A qualitative analysis of the 2015 ‘Race at work' survey undertaken by the Centre of Dynamics of Ethnicity at the University of Manchester revealed that Black and Minority Ethnic workers are frequently subjected to racism by colleagues, managers, customers, clients and service users.

The report argues that racism is experienced in a variety of ways ranging from ‘every day’ banter to violence and intimidation.

The researchers joined members of Parliament, representatives from  multinational companies, along with the BME voluntary sector and national third sector organisations to discuss the report at the House of Commons.

During his presentation Professor James Nazroo stated that, “What is most alarming is that despite the data showing excellent academic improvement from all the BME communities, the lack of top jobs and discriminatory practices have barely changed in the last 10 years”.

Dawn Butler was even more scathing in her remarks:
“Black people”, she argued, “can be simultaneously invisible and extremely visible in the work place. If you do good work, you ‘re invisible. If you do anything that’s perceived out of line you’ll be very visible”.

The situation is made worse by the fact that free legal aide to challenge work racism is no more, and that many just don’t have the financial means to take on a big employer.

Lord Herman Ouseley, former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality lamented that the equality body, The Equality and Human Rights Commission,  established to hold big business to account was having its budget cut, and furthermore, he argued, "it seemed to be doing very little on race equality test cases in the last few years".

A member of audience also highlighted what was occurring in the ‘Third sector’ stating that: “whilst we focus on the private and the public sector we ignore the ‘Third sector’ organisations - such as Oxfam - who virtually ignore diversity.  These organisations are bursting at the seams with white middle class employees, particularly at senior level".

The findings of this report cannot easily be dismissed. Over 25, 000 BME individuals responded to it making it the biggest survey of its kind.

The question now is will Government and big business take notice?

Simon Woolley