Developing an anti-racist workplace
Many businesses have responded to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement by listening to their staff and reviewing their business to address any racial inequality at work and make sure their workplaces are inclusive environments.
All businesses, whether micro, small or medium-sized, can make changes to improve diversity and inclusion. We’re sharing ideas for short and long-term changes you can make in your business.
The first step to making these changes is to educate yourself by finding resources that can give insights into the challenges facing Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Recognise the unique experiences in different communities and understand structural inequalities, particularly the concept of white privilege – this is white people having greater systemic opportunities. From a BLM perspective, consider the unique inequalities faced by Black people in the workplace.
Start a conversation
Create a safe, open space to discuss race issues for all your colleagues, no matter their race. It’s important that everyone feels included and comfortable in sharing their experiences. You can do this informally and formally through team meetings, surveys, 1:1 meetings and webinars. Ask questions around what your employees want and need to feel included, how they wish to be identified and what they think needs to change. Then use these conversations and the feedback you get to drive change in your business.
Understand that your colleagues might discuss deeply sensitive experiences which can be traumatic or triggering, so these conversations should be handled with care. Some of your employees might not want to have this conversation, but be aware that you might have some uncomfortable discussions, and that’s OK.
Set up a working group to keep these conversations on the agenda – you could create a BAME network or a Black heritage group. If you’re a very small business, there might be an industry-wide network you can join such as UK-BAME.
Embed an anti-racist culture in your business by hosting information sessions, training and workshops for all employees to understand the power of becoming an ally. For unconscious bias training, Heart of the City ambassadors and memers have recommended Brook Graham, Development Beyond Learning, Fearless Futures and 106Comms, InterLaw Diversity Forum and Built By Us. LinkedIn also has a free course on helping you become a stronger ally and have inclusive conversations.
Include senior management
We know how important it is to have senior buy-in; it’s the most effective way to make change in your business. If you’re in a senior position, it’s a good idea to try to understand the experiences of the Black community by having conversations within your organisation – it’ll improve relationships and build stronger relationships.
Review your processes
Actively and regularly promote any assistance programmes you have, as well as external mental health and wellbeing services. Use all the channels you have – we’ve shared tips in this resource.
Make sure your branding is diverse and includes Black lives. Review your website and social media channels to check if they represent your business and the community you work in.
What’s your recruitment process like? If you don’t think you’re attracting proportionate Black talent, think about where and how you’re advertising – and take at a look at our resource on recruiting for diversity. Have clear progression routes and opportunities for Black employees in your organisation to progress.
Review the demographic of your workforce, identifying gaps where there’s a disparity between race and pay grades. Be transparent about what this looks like now and how you hope to bridge any gaps.
Offer opportunities to young Black people to gain an insight into your industry though work experience, internships and mentoring.
Sign up to Business in the Community’s Race at Work quality mark. This says that every employer must prioritise action on race by taking on three key actions to amplify their commitment to equal opportunities at work.
Review your complaints process. Make sure it’s openly available and clear to understand, so your employees feel confident in complaining if they’re a victim of racism.
Support charities and community groups
Consider supporting charities that are helping to remove racial inequality. By building relationships with diversity charities and grassroots organisations you can offer support, get guidance and advertise opportunities. Heart of the City ambassadors have recommended:
- Access UK
- Black Learning and Achievement Mental Health
- Black Training and Enterprise Group
- Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
- Generating Genius
- Inquest Charitable Trust
- Show Racism the Red Card
- Social Mobility Foundation
- Stand Against Racism and Inequality
- Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
- Stop Hate UK
Keep going and have a can-do approach – it’s great that you’ve started to make change in your business. Recognise that you may not get it right, so listen, be open to feedback and adjust your approach in response.
This was last updated by Heart of the City in September 2022. We’ve created these resources for individual SMEs to use. None of our content is to be adapted, reused or repurposed for commercial use.