Organisations have been slow to recognise institutional or structural racism. Under representation at a senior level and frequent over reputation at the lower levels is well documented. The disproportionate number of BME employees subject to disciplinary action is acknowledged by HR as are grievances against managers for unfair treatment and bullying.
Most organisations recognise the need to address this evidence and have revised recruitment practices, set targets and put in place monitoring arrangements. But adjusting person specifications in an attempt to get a more diverse short list, aiming for gender and race balanced interview panels and delivering race awareness training to interviewers is clearly not enough.
Overt racist behaviour or language may no longer be tolerated, HR department are trying to address institutional racism but the majority of managers and their staff still have a mind set that says, “but I am not a racist” meaning I’m ok I don’t need to be challenged or made aware. Some do acknowledge that training has given them insight into how easy it is to fall pry to stereotypes, and be ignorant of how people different to themselves experienced life in the same even in the same town and same organisation.
Do we accept that our organisation operates within a racist society? And do we accept that it’s not enough to to say “I’m not a racist” you must be anti Racist? For me the logic of accepting this is that an organisation should be encouraging every employee to be anti racist starting with managers as they are responsible for how their staff relate to their colleagues.
What does being anti racist mean, it means taking action against racism. For me it means being a champion for equality and diversity.