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UK Employers Need To Take Action In Response To Race Protests

UK Employers Need To Take Action In Response To Race Protests
10 June 2020 | Updated 18 June 2020

Sandra Kerr CBE, Business in the Community Race Director, is calling on UK employers to take action on racism, not only when the issue reaches the media, but at all times.

After a further week of UK protests and demonstrations bringing the issue of systemic racism to the fore of mainstream media,  Business in the Community is sharing the message that every employer needs to prioritise action on race now more than ever.

Kerr reflects on 25 years of campaigning for race equality in the UK.



“The brutal killing of George Floyd has sent shockwaves around the world. Reflecting on this in the context of 25 years of campaigning for Race Equality in the UK, BITC believes every employer needs to prioritise action on race now more than ever. While Minneapolis may seem far away, the ramifications of his death and the systemic racism that caused it is not limited to the US.”

–Sandra Kerr CBE

Race Director, Business in the Community


BAME People Continue To Be Underrepresented At Senior Levels


The BITC is an organisation born out of the Toxteth and Brixton race riots of the early 1980s, with the belief that the success of business and society are inextricably linked. Whilst the organisation acknowledges that some great progress has made, its focus is on what more there is to be done in tackling race inequality across communities and workplaces. 

“It can’t be a case of ‘either/or’; it must be both, in order to create a fair society and inclusive economy.” writes Kerr.

BAME communities make up an ever-growing part of the UK population (13.8% across the UK and 40% in London) and represent one in three school children in compulsory education. Across the UK economy, BAME people continue to be under-employed and underrepresented at senior levels.


Transparency And Leadership


Kerr says that leadership in the workplace is crucial in the journey towards race equality and that employers need to show that they are prepared to be transparent on all issues relating to race, from disparities in pay to barriers to equality across recruitment, retention and progression:

“Leadership is critical to ensure timely action on issues as they arise. Unless employers proactively and consistently engage with this issue, there will be a profound disconnect between them and their communities, their customers and their workforce, particularly when COVID-19 threatens to widen racial inequality with lower pay and disproportionate job losses among BAME employees.

“No company is perfect, but employers can make sure that they are taking the steps necessary to be transparent, take inventory of where they’re at, and know what steps need to be made next.”


Employee Wellbeing


With the increased media coverage of global anti-racism protests, Kerr also promotes employer sensitivity and awareness of the potential negative impact on their Black employees:

“This traumatic incident and the subsequent violence has been viewed by people of all ages around the world and in the UK. Employers need to condemn racist violence and be sensitive that peaceful acts of solidarity are going to be one way that individuals will want to demonstrate support, to say that extrajudicial killings are unjust and cannot be allowed to happen in any civilised society.”


The Race At Work Charter


The Race at Work Charter is once again working to facilitate this conversation and making sure companies are representative of British society today, through their 2020 survey and promoting direct calls to action. You can find out more about the charter's aims, and how to get involved in the survey here

Picture: A photograph of some of the recent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 10 June 2020


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