Racial harassment report reveals a significant problem

A large number of black, Asian and minority ethnic workers have experienced racial harassment at work in the last five years according to a new report. The study, based on polls carried out by the TUC, found that racism is a widespread issue in everyday working life in the UK. Yet it claims that employers do not consider racism as part of the everyday agenda in working life.

The survey of more than 5,000 people found that 65% of all ethnic minority participants reported that they have experienced racial harassment at work in the last five years, while 49% said they had been treated unfairly by their employer because of their race.  This included of promotion and disproportionately low levels of access to training.

It is claimed that the effect of racism at work is an “invisible issue” that is not discussed. The report is said to challenge the assumption that racism is only a problem when specific incidents of racism take place and highlights the accumulative effect that institutional racism has on workers’ health, wellbeing and ability to function at work.

Almost half of respondents from a black, Asian or mixed heritage background reported they had been subjected to verbal abuse and racist jokes at work. A third said they had been bullied and subjected to “ignorant or insensitive” questions, while 11% experienced racist violence at work.

Almost two-thirds of black employees said racism at work impacted their mental health and stress, with more than half saying workplace racism negatively impacted their work.

Among a number of recommendations, the report authors callfor a review into whether employers were fulfilling their duties around equality, as well as legislation to ensure businesses were responsible for protecting workers against racism by third parties, and to introduce anonymised application forms across all sector.

More black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals are on zero-hours contracts – one in 24, compared to one in 42 white workers. And one in 13 are in in temporary work, compared to 1 in 19 white workers.

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