I spend much of my time having conversations or encouraging conversations on equality issues. Race, Gender, Disability are issues that are receiving much attention of late, and not a moment too soon. But I must admit that I experience a sense of frustration at the number of reports I come across that tell us the same things, year after year. About the number of black employees all over the UK who have experienced racism at work and are still doing so.
Racism that hampers, slows, or completely derails their career prospects. I would have hoped that my career experiences would have been a thing of the past by now, but unfortunately this is not the case.
Having said this, I find some relief in the fact that these reports are coming from more and more highly regarded organisations across all sectors. And this can only be good news. A step forward in our goal is to recognise the injustices and inequalities being experienced by black employees in workplaces up and down our country. Skilled, capable individuals who only want to progress and achieve success for themselves and their employers.
Why is it then that yet another report, this time from the finance sector tells us that two in three UK finance workers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds have suffered discrimination in the workplace. Source Reboot.
From a senior management perspective, this states that two-thirds of your black and ethnic diverse employees are being failed. The financial impact of this for the organisations involved is huge and long-lasting.
For things to change organisational leaders, the decision-makers, must focus on understanding and accepting the lived experiences of their black employees. There is a huge difference between the corporate idea of what is fair and equal. A standard designed from a perspective of the white majority whose lived experience differs greatly from that of black and minority identified employees, because of a difference in skin colour.
No sector is immune from the impact of inequality. However, a few organisations are reporting the diversity and/or diversity pay gap, there is still a way to go. As this movement for equality continues from the global impact of BLM and the killing of George Floyd, I believe we are at a stage in our human development where the standard of racial inequality is becoming less and less acceptable. A greater number of individuals white and black at all levels of organisations want this change and are working together to see it happen.
I started this piece with a sense of frustration because, as a black woman I so want to see and know that change is happening. Ever the optimist, I welcome reports that share the lived experiences of black workers and hope that this brings change for the better.
Sandra Pollock OBE
Diversity & Inclusion Consultant