Why we need employers to talk about race

Sandra Kerr OBE,  Director, Race Equality Campaign Director, Business in the Community

Why we need employers to talk about race at work

I’d like to start this blog by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has completed our race at work survey so far. I’m delighted by the overwhelming response we’ve had since launching on the 27th July. We’ve also had fantastic support from Sol Campbell and BBC radio DJ Nihal on Twitter, as well as a number of major employers.

In the press release to launch the opening of the survey, we referenced the finding that British people are far more likely to test their racial bias than test their bias for age, gender or sexuality.*

I urge individuals and employers to support us in achieving our target so that we can support employers to create workplaces that work for everyone

Now we have published a graphic which shows not only this data, but also why they chose to take this race test.  40% of British people who took the online IAT race bias test were driven to do so by news and other media. By contrast, only 9% took the test after being encouraged to do so by their workplace.

All this sends a strong message that British people have a natural curiosity about race – which is why they are more likely to take the race bias test than any other. What is interesting to me is that they aren’t necessarily coming to it through their employer. In fact, this represents a huge untapped opportunity for employers to start having conversations with their staff about race in the workplace – I hope that our race at work survey kickstarts this.

Getting 10,000 employees to fill in www.raceatwork.org.uk will certainly be a giant leap in starting this conversation. It will help us to move beyond debate and straight to action.

Please join the employers who are already showing strong leadership on this issue and supporting us by pushing the survey out to their employees and wider networks. These employers include our race at work sponsors – BT, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Nationwide and Sainsbury’s – as well as supporters such as Mitie, EDF Energy, Transport for London and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Employee networks, both within companies and external organisations such as the TUC have been playing a key part in encouraging people to share their stories and help us achieve real change.

I urge individuals and employers to support us in achieving our target so that we can support employers to create workplaces that work for everyone.

Please continue to help us build a clear picture of race at work in the UK today by sharing the survey URL: visit http://www.raceatwork.org.uk

Thank you.

Why the British take race bias tests rather than gender / age/ disability

*Project Implicit’s Implicit Association Test (IAT) for unconscious racial bias was taken by 2.5 million people across the UK, the USA and 17 countries in mainland Western Europe between 2003 and 2013. The IAT is a test designed to help individuals understand their unconscious biases. The Race IAT tests for implicit or unconscious positive emotional responses to White faces relative to Black faces. Business in the Community partnered with the University of Manchester’s Centre of the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) to analyse these data.