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Senior staff nervous when discussing race at work

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Two-thirds of those in senior positions in the UK are nervous about using the wrong language when discussing race in the workplace, a survey has found.

The poll of 500 non-HR decision makers carried out by Censuswide for D&I network INvolve found that 65% of respondents were concerned about using the wrong or inappropriate language when discussing race at work.

More specifically, 56% were uncomfortable using the terms ‘Black’, ‘Asian’, ‘BAME’, and ‘Ethnic minority’ in the workplace, while 36% did not think BAME was an appropriate term to use in the workplace.

Some 44% reported that they changed their natural language choice when talking to someone of a different race.

Of those surveyed, three-quarters of whom were white, 72% stated they had witnessed at least one instance of racism in the workplace over the last three years.

Suki Sandhu OBE, Founder and CEO of INvolve, said: “The ability to discuss issues surrounding race in the workplace is crucial and if white and other employees don’t have the confidence to have these discussions, we cannot create the meaningful long-term change we need.

“As shown by the lack of ethnic minority representation in senior leadership, systemic racism is still pervasive in British business and until we are all able to have difficult conversations by eliminating the fear surrounding them, we cannot successfully address racial equality in the workplace.”

This release of the research coincided with the publication of INvolve’s annual EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Models lists, which highlight business leaders who are breaking down barriers for ethnic minorities at work.

Diageo’s Chief Executive Officer Ivan Menezes topped this year’s list of top executives, largely for his work driving inclusion and diversity at the multinational drinks giant.

Menezes said: “It takes time to see shifts in representation at all levels in the organisation. It requires the setting of targets, changes in policy, leading the change from the top and having role models within the business.”

Maryse Gordon, Business Development Manager of Data and Analytics at the London Stock Exchange Group, was number one in EMpower’s 100 future leaders list, while Carolyn McCall, CEO at ITV, came top of the 50 advocates list.

Sandhu said of the lists: “Celebrating ethnic minority talent is a great way to champion individuals in business who are paving the way forward for inclusion. I am thrilled to be able to showcase the achievements of another fantastic group of role models in business who are reaching the top of their fields while ensuring that they send the elevator back down for others.”

The full lists can be found here: https://empower.involverolemodels.org/

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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