Protect your business from racism claims

As the country reels from the controversial interview between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Oprah Winfrey and Meghan’s claims of racism in what she calls ‘the firm,’ British business must continue to tackle claims of racism and harassment in the workplace.

Meghan has divided the United Kingdom. Research* showed that 41% of Brits have a negative opinion of the Duchess, with baby boomers as the least approving, at only 25% approval. The same research showed that 32% had a positive opinion of her. Millennials were the most complimentary of her, Leigh-Anne Pinnock of Little Mix defended her, praising ‘her strength and determination for speaking out on her experiences showing the underlying racism.’

The highly anticipated interview touched on many topics, ranging from mental health and racism to the royal family dynamics, with conclusions about bigotry in the British press. Royalist or republican, it is essential that businesses learn from Meghan and ensure that they remove any possibility for claims about racism from their workplaces, cautions a Darlington based HR expert.

Nicky Jolley, the founder and managing director of Darlington-based HR2day, said: “Racism is not an issue that is only spoken about in the media, it is a common form of workplace discrimination that is illegal under the Equality Act 2010. It is important that businesses, learn from this very public racist claim against ‘the firm’ and take steps to tackle racism in the workplace.”

Nicky sets out three steps for managing racism in the workplace:

1.Recognise. In order to manage racism, it must first be recognised as an issue and addressed, however difficult this may be.

2.Deal. After recognising racism in a business, support must be put in place if a colleague wishes to continue with a formal complaint.

3.Change. Having recognised and dealt with a claim about racism, businesses need to reassess company culture, have open conversations with their staff, and create a consistent message to safeguard marginalised communities.

Nicky continued, “Businesses are responsible for the safeguarding of their staff, and people need to be appraised based on their work rather than their race, religion, gender or sexuality. If we take anything away from Meghan’s exposé, it is that firms need to re-evaluate the anti-discrimination policies in the workplace by recognising, dealing and changing.”


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