An interim report about the experiences of Black and minority ethnic workers in the workplace.
Let’s talk about racism - report
Trade unions have a long history of opposing racism and discrimination in the workplace. In recent years, though, the debate has narrowed to focus only on access to work. This has obscured the daily reality of racism at work for many BME workers – and has reduced the focus on stopping it.
This report presents findings from a self-report survey of more than 5000 working people. It gives voice to the everyday experience of racism in the British workplace, and is part of an ongoing project to challenge racism at work. Further reports will be published later in 2017.
This report clearly shows that racial harassment still goes on in too many workplaces. The BME workers who completed our survey faced many forms of racial harassment in the workplace, including bullying, racist abuse and violence, hearing racist remarks or opinions, seeing racist material online and on posters, graffiti or leaflets. They told us that the perpetrator was most likely to be a work colleague, with a significant number saying that the perpetrator was their manager.
Our survey also showed that BME workers experience significant discrimination in the workplace, including excessive surveillance and scrutiny by colleagues, supervisors and managers. Respondents told us that they have been denied promotion, development or acting up opportunities and training and some have been unfairly disciplined because of their race.
It is clear that large numbers of BME workers are less likely to formally raise issues about racism at work with their employers. Most respondents prefer to speak to family members, friends or work colleagues - especially women respondents. The findings show that many BME workers do not have the confidence that their employer would deal with their complaint satisfactorily - and some worry that making a complaint risks them being identified as a trouble maker or forced out of their job.
Racism at work clearly has a huge impact on BME workers’ wellbeing. The survey shows that experiencing racism at work significantly impacts on BME workers’ mental health and causes stress. For many, the experiences had a negative impact on their work and some had to take time off sick.
This report explores the nature of racism at work and shines a light on an issue which is too often overlooked. And it sets out clear recommendations for action by government and employers.
To tackle racist discrimination and harassment at work, employers should:
To tackle racist harassment and discrimination at work, government should:
Download full report below.