Rain before Rainbows
“Today, I was racially profiled by a security guard whilst entering my workplace. I was instructed to use the loading bay”
These are the words of Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful who recounted a recent experience. He went on to say:
“Just because our timelines and weekends are returning to normal, we cannot let the world return to how it was. Change needs to happen now.”
While campaigns such as the BLM movement have made a significant impact on racial equality and diversity, racism remains a deep-seated issue. Another example of this concerns the actor Regé-Jean Page (above), who amongst many other roles played the Duke of Hastings in Netflix’s Regency era series Bridgerton and recently read the story ‘Rain Before Rainbows’ on Cbeebies which was an absolute joy!
According to ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ it was revealed that Page auditioned for the role of Superman’s grandfather in a US series but was reportedly turned down for the role by Geoff Johns, former co-Chairman of DC Films, who was overseeing the project, who allegedly stated that Superman could not have a black grandfather.
The Hollywood Reporter added that through a rep, Johns didn’t deny the accusation.
These claims, whilst from the world of Hollywood, do act as another high-profile in-road to assess diversity in the corporate world, especially when it comes to racial profiling and inequality in hiring.
Sandra Kerr, race director at BITC, said HR professionals are essential to facilitating the progression of diverse employees.
"HR teams can ensure diversity on selection panels and monitor each stage of the recruitment process to ensure there is no disproportional drop out of candidates. And once recruitment is over, HR teams can also help to promote sponsorship and progression within the company.
"Businesses have a wealth of talent at their fingertips, but they need diverse voices around the table, and HR personnel are the key to making that happen.”
The Race at Work Charter
When launched in 2018, this was designed to be a public commitment from businesses to tackle ethnic disparities in the workplace. By signing it, businesses make five commitments:
- Appoint an executive sponsor for race
- Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress
- Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
- Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers
- Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.
The CIPD and Business in the Community (BITC) have now issued Meeting the BITC Race at Work Charter: an employer’s guide which is new guidance to help employers meet the demands of the charter.
The guides provides detailed, research-backed recommendations on how to meet each of the commitments in the charter, and signposts to further resources which support race inclusion for example:
- To support ethnic minority career progression the guide advises organisations to create opportunities for employees to build relationships across the business, i.e. through mentoring or employee networks.
- It suggests progression can also be facilitated through giving ethnic minority employees opportunities to work on varied projects and access training and development.
- The guide also includes an appendix for small- and medium-sized organisations, which may have fewer resources or lack dedicated HR and I&D support.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said:
“though employers are speaking up about the importance of diversity and inclusion, it has been challenging to achieve meaningful action”
“We must move beyond good intention, engage our people, understand where we really are, and communicate and commit to the interventions that are needed to make a real and sustained difference.”
Sandra Kerr’s words really bring the message home and should encourage all businesses, with the support and facilitation from their HR functions that tackling Diversity and Inclusion is vital if they are to thrive and prosper and cannot be ignored:
“Signing the Race at Work Charter is more than just a tick box exercise, she added: "It’s a promise to act, not an end in itself”
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