Black History Month: How do we increase socio-economic diversity in the workplace?

  • October 25, 2021
 

Black History Month (BHM) provides an opportunity for people to continue listening, learning and educating themselves and others on the important contributions of black people throughout history. It’s been celebrated in the UK for over 30 years and occurs every October. The celebration was organised by Akyaaba Addai Sebo, who worked as a ‘coordinator of special projects’ for the Greater London Council to honour those who have been left out of British history.

This year the theme is ‘Proud To Be’ with the aim of celebrating being Black, and to inspire and share the pride people have in their heritage and culture. This blog is dedicated to how businesses can work together to increase and create more socio-economic diversity in the workplace.

To this day the work achieved by Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and many others have influenced a much needed change in many workplaces across the UK. However, evidence suggests there’s still a long way to go. A YouGov poll which questioned 1,270 adults revealed that over half of black Britons say they are as likely to have encountered racism in the workplace as they are to have experienced it on the street. 85% said they felt racism was present in UK society today.

A ‘Racism at Work Survey’ found that in a survey of over 5000 people, 65% of ethnic minority workers in the last 5 years had undergone harassment at work and been subjected to unfair treatment due to race by an employer. One-third of employees from a Black, Asian and mixed background stated they had experienced insensitive questioning or been bullied in the workplace. These figures do not represent all UK individual businesses but should encourage everyone to create a fair and equal work environment. Constructing a fair and diverse workplace looks to challenge discrimination in all forms and has many benefits to a business as a whole.

There is always room for improvement in a business and many methods to improve diversity and socio-economic representation in workplaces. This can be done by:

Educating

Educate employees on what actions are acceptable and are not. If everyone knows and understands the signs of exclusionary behaviour, then everyone can contribute to making an inclusive environment. It’s important that everyone in a workforce recognises their role.

In order to teach employees about this, you may want to bring in a guest speaker or even appoint a member of staff to become a representative whose responsibility is to conduct training to the wider business.

Progression and training programmes

When hiring, reduce obstacles like academic qualifications where possible and offer training ensuring clear progression paths that are accessible to all levels. A way of doing this could be partnering with schools or colleges and showing students from all backgrounds that there’s access to a vast range of opportunities like apprenticeships and internships.  

Overall workplace assessment

Depending on the number of employees, either ask or build a survey or gather a discussion group to give staff a chance to voice any concerns. By asking questions such as “How much influence do you believe you have in our company?” and “How integrated do you feel?” it will allow you to asses accurately and find out how inclusive your workplace really is. After this a strategy can be put in place.

Culture

Showcase role models in the businesses who conduct themselves in an appropriate way. These can be senior members of staff or stake holders who play a vital role in developing inclusion.

Ensure processes are in place through which employees, including ethnic minority groups, can highlight issues about inequality and be heard.

Workplaces need to act in order to create a more inclusive and fairer environment. Little change will happen if no one takes action. “Learning from history, combined with a collective effort and proactive approach has the power to continue to develop the workplace for positive change!”

 
Trustpilot