Businesses must take a preventative approach to racial harassment in the workplace

Culture Shift – the software development business that empowers organizations to tackle workplace bullying and harassment – has reported a significant rise in inquiries over the past week from organizations looking for practical ways they can tackle racial harassment in the workplace.
In addition, the latest data from Google Trends revealed that the UK searches for ‘workplace racism’, ‘workplace diversity’, and ‘diversity and inclusion’ all peaked to their 2020 highest in the week of 7th – 13th June – signaling a huge rise in public interest around the topics. 
Commenting on this, Culture Shift’s CEO Gemma McCall, said: “Racial injustice has been an ongoing, commonly ignored issue for far too long and staying silent has proved deadly, as we know from recent global events. The global movements accelerated by these events set to address deeply entrenched forms of racism and have exposed a number of brands, businesses and individuals for unfair practices.
Over the past week we’ve seen a significant increase in inbound enquires from companies looking for practical ways to tackle racial harassment in the workplace and positively change culture, so it’s clear that speaking out is starting to make a difference. We’re seeing a rise specifically in corporates seeking out ways to make their workforces more diverse, as well as advice on how they can protect BAME members of their teams from any instances of harassment.
“It’s vital for businesses to realise that no workplace is immune from racial harassment and there’s still so much that needs to be done. And while it’s positive that these conversations are happening, they need to happen faster and with more frequency. Employers across every sector can, and must, do more to protect their people against racial harassment and efforts can’t just be surface level. They must be part of an ongoing and ever-evolving process of incremental action if they are to lead to real and sustainable change. It has to be more than public statements posted on social media and paying lip service to public pressure.
“In the workplace specifically, we echo the technical guidance published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in January and suggest having clear reporting pathways in place that encourage people to speak up if they do witness something concerning – whether that’s an overt instance of misconduct or a seemingly less significant micro-aggression which could turn into a bigger issue down the line. Any policies around harassment or reporting of harassment need to be communicated and accessible to all staff – whether currently working or furloughed – with those that do speak out against bullying encouraged and supported for doing so, rather than perpetuating any stigma.
“Employers must break down the barriers to reporting harassment in the first place and take steps to put control into the hands of the person reporting by giving them the choice to remain anonymous. We know first-hand that when this is done it makes people more likely to report (by up to 244%, based on data from one of our clients) and creates a culture of respect and trust – something which has never been more important.”