Rise in Racism Borne Out of Fear of the Unknown?

The 2014 British Social Attitude survey finds self-reporting racial prejudice is on the rise, particularly in educated male professionals. This the most-worrying group to exhibit rising racial prejudice, says Sandra Kerr OBE, director of Business in the Community’s race equality campaign Race for Opportunity. 

Sandra Kerr OBE, comments:

It is unsurprising to me that racial prejudice still exists in the UK, as our research consistently shows high levels of racial inequality in the workplace, as well as damaging racist comments

.''It’s disappointing that the number of people self-reporting racial prejudice in the UK is on the rise, particularly in male professionals. This is most worrying as this group is statistically more likely to rise to senior positions in business and have influence on organisational cultures.  

“Racial prejudice is often borne out of fear of the unknown, with individuals feeling more ‘comfortable’ with people of similar backgrounds - be it ethnicity or otherwise. This “unconscious bias” affects recruitment of people of an ethnic minority background, and perpetuates a ‘them and us’ way of thinking. It’s well researched that CVs with ethnic minority names are more likely to be rejected in favour of the exact same CV with a more traditional ‘white’ name.

“Employers can take responsibility for tackling behaviours that result in workplace inequalities and have potential to escalate into racial bullying.  Providing unconscious bias training and encouraging employees to participate in mentoring programmes with ethnic minority employees and young people would, I believe, go some way in challenging racial prejudice in these self-reporting groups of working individuals.

Employers can take responsibility for tackling behaviours that result in workplace inequalities and have potential to escalate into racial bullying.

“When we know that the number of ethnic minorities in the UK will increase to 30 per cent of population by 2050, it will take a concerted effort from government, employers and community groups to ensure societal and workplace divisions do not widen even further.”

Race for Opportunity will be launching a report into the extent of racial inequalities in senior management in June (Race at the Top) which will be an indicator of just how embedded unconscious bias towards ethnic minorities is within UK business.

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