I always wondered why we say things like "it's not easy to talk about Race" but why? Who is this conversation not easy for exactly? Speaking about Race is not something that needs to be complicated, but it does need to be addressed by someone who knows what they are talking about, so I guess you could say that is where I come in ;).
Many non-white individuals find themselves censoring in the workplace so much so that it creates a high level of anxiety and fear. Having to avoid the stereotypes as they are automatically attached to every fibre of your being even before you have yet opened your mouth. It is time to address Race in the workplace and why your company needs to talk about it.
However, it seems as though many are on a mission to tackle a range of diverse issues, but the Race conversation does not seem to be on the agenda in the same way. What is it about Race that makes it so hard for workplaces and institutions to tackle? It would be fair to say that there is still a problem because we know that the Race wage gap is still apparent. Research shows that when a black child grows up in a wealthy neighbourhood in a two-parent home, this child will grow up to still earn less than his white friend who lives next-door despite them having the same qualifications (Washington Post).
In the meantime, here are five reasons why your company needs to talk about Race, and I am going to help you do it and if you are still unsure of the best approach, get in touch with me.
1. Race is a conversation that includes everyone.
When talking about Race, we must remember that this also includes white people. As mentioned in my online show UNSPOKEN, white people are also Raced and therefore need to understand how their Race fits into the conversation, particularly in the workplace. If Race has the label of a Black or Brown issue, this perpetuates a problem.
2. Pay gap
The UK workforce still has a big problem when it comes to the racial pay gap. There is no excuse for it, and it is just direct discrimination. In 2019 I am still confused as to how people are still so discriminated against in the workplace. Humans have come so far with technology and a range of creations yet still primitive when understanding humanity and equality. According to the GOV 2017 UK Household income report, 35% of Black households were more likely to possess a weekly income of less than £400 before tax and National Insurances deductions.
3. If you are tackling Gender, you need to tackle Race.
In my lectures and educational workshops, I make it clear that it is merely impossible to tackle Gender equality without tackling Race, Many non-white women gradually become excluded from the Gender debate, and psychologists understand the need for uniting the two characteristics. The intersectionality theory argues that Race and Gender are intertwined, so there is a strong case for not separating the two traits, but instead seeing Race and Gender as an issue that needs addressing equally.
4. A diverse workforce is necessary
There is a long history in the UK regarding Race at work. We do not have to go that far back to see how much the Black and Asian community have contributed to the British workforce. The Windrush generation played a significant role in rebuilding Britain yet were not seen as valuable facing deportation and being reported as not British despite being colonised by the British.
These attitudes and undertones are still present in organisations. People from different backgrounds have a lot to offer within the workspace, and the lack of racial diversity often results in campaigns like a black child wearing a monkey t-shirt or, creating a black face jumper. Having a high cultural awareness in your company improves employee relations and overall business outcomes.
5. If not, now, when?
The real question is, why are you waiting? It is time to get progressive and appreciate the benefits of a racially diverse workforce. I respect organisations who are taking the right steps to make changes and who are open and willing to challenge stereotypes and support employees from all different racial backgrounds. To get the best out of employees, it is vital that your company understands culture and Race. It's okay not to know how to address this topic, but it is not okay to do nothing.
So, what can you do?
I run workshops and training on Race in the workplace, and I would like to have a chat with you. BOOK HERE and let's get your workplace feeling balanced and healthy.