Firms called to take action on racism in the workplace

Business in the Community has launched the Race at Work campaign, in partnership with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, challenging businesses to proactively support the inclusion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workplace

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 1:00 pm

Business in the Community has launched the Race at Work campaign, in partnership with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, challenging businesses to proactively support the inclusion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workplace

Responsible business network Business in the Community (BITC) has launched the Race at Work campaign in partnership with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

The call is for employers to proactively support the inclusion of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workplace, and to sign the Race at Work Charter as a public commitment of action for race equality.

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Pictured at the launch of the Race at Work campaign are Chris Lillie, SHS Group, Geraldine McGahey, Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Stephanie Reid, Business in the Community, Lori Gatsi-Barnett, JoinHer Network, John Healy OBE, Allstate Northern Ireland, Vicky Davis, Danske Bank, Israel Eguaogie, Belfast City of Sanctuary and Chris Conway, Translink

The Race at Work Charter has more than 750 signatories across the UK.

Businesses in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to get involved with other leading companies who have already signed the Race at Work Charter, including Allstate NI, Danske Bank, SHS Group and Translink.

Stephanie Reid, Programme Manager from Business in the Community explained: “Business in the Community’s Race at Work campaign and Charter is about ensuring that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels in the workplace and equality of opportunity for all is at the forefront of good business practices.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and 2020’s anti-racism protests have shone a light on the different lived experiences of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

“There has been a groundswell in business response to these issues and there is a growing desire among Northern Ireland businesses to take action to tackle racism and proactively support the inclusion of those from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workforce.”

By signing the Race at Work Charter a business commits to: appoint an Executive Sponsor for race; capture ethnicity data and publicise progress; commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying; make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers; and take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

Business in the Community offers a range of resources and toolkits to help businesses achieve and amplify the commitments of the Charter.

The campaign brings together key organisations and local businesses to work collaboratively to address racism in the workplace.

Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland continued: “The issue of racial discrimination isn’t new to Northern Ireland.

“We need a concerted effort from all across our society, including our business leaders and local employers if we are to successfully challenge it and to effect real change for those in our minority ethnic communities.

“We need employers to show both commitment and action, so that together, we can make a real difference to tackle racial prejudice and ensure our workplaces are totally inclusive for every employee regardless of their race. It is important that businesses play their part so that everyone is treated with equal dignity and respect at work.”

Israel Eguaogie, Chairman of Belfast city of Sanctuary and Founder of iAssist-NI and Diverse Youth NI added: “It is so encouraging to see local businesses taking action against racism in the workplace.

“We work closely with people from the black community who report that they are subject to racial abuse, almost on a daily basis, so it is evident that racism is a big problem here in Northern Ireland.

“I am delighted to be working with Business in the Community and these local employers to give them advice and guidance on how to identify racist behaviour, and how to stop it.”

If your business would like to know more about the Race at Work campaign or sign up to the Charter, please visit www.bitcni.org.uk/RaceatWork

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