The publication of the UK’s Government’s race disparity audit, although both blasted and trumpeted, was also a seminal moment. So well done to the Government but in the words of one of Mel Gibson’s lieutenants in ‘Brave-heart’, “Great speech…what do we do now?”
Gibson’s William Wallace had just made a stirring and rallying speech prior to the commencement of battle against a much more powerful army than their own.
So great speech, Mrs May. Great that you have highlighted the issues, but what happens now? This is a question a lot of people have been asking me. Wallace had a plan. I suspect the Government doesn’t. Luckily we do have a plan.
I am not making a political point, rather expressing an observation, when I say I was surprised that a Conservative government had bothered itself about race equality. It is the first time in my life-time that I have seen the Tories come out so strongly on the issue – verbally, at least.
Many on the left of centre have bashed the Government for regurgitating old reports, and have blasted the move within an overall holistic attack on Tory government policy. But we should give the Government some credit and encourage them. The other parties should remember that some of the policies of the New Labour government also had a disproportionate detrimental effect on BAME communities.
None of the mainstream parties have a completely clean pair of hands on the issue of race. Brexit has seen a surge in racism and has sent race equality backwards at an alarming rate.
Over the last few days we have seen ministers and shadow ministers squabbling on party political lines. To reduce this to a party political issue is unhelpful.
It was a Labour government, albeit with good intentions, which dismantled the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) which, though admittedly far from perfect, was doing some great work on the ground. Those that had fought for the cause of race equality knew losing the CRE would mean that race would be kicked into the long grass. Sure enough, we saw a dismantling of the whole infrastructure which challenged racism, discrimination and race inequality.
Race subsequently became subsumed and lost within the remit of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Race equality had all but disappeared off the radar until a few days ago, when the Prime Minister spectacularly put it back into the public domain by making it a Government priority – a priority, by the way that all of the mainstream parties, if they were to form a new government, would back when in power.
This is an opportunity to move forward. It is a long held British tradition that when our Politicians don’t care for an issue or don’t understand it, they commission an enquiry but very little action takes place from there.
In this case race, as its own stand-alone issue has been retrieved from the long grass. Now there needs to be all-party collaboration to move it on.
Many people view race equality as a cause, and we need to work together to plot the next steps. We have lots of interesting and useful data, but data is only truly useful if you do something with it. Action is needed based on a twin track approach of encouragement and enforcement, taking a pro-active rather than re-active approach to race.
We’ve taken the time to answer the question ‘What next?”.
Here’s 10 things that you and your organisation should do next:
- Stop thinking that because you are white that you lack authenticity or credibility with BAME people. This in itself is a biased way of looking at racial diversity. If you are reading this then it’s probably your job to do it in your organisation. If you don’t do it the chances are that no one else will do it.
- Evaluate your culture – can you prove that it is inclusive of people from BAME backgrounds? You may have to in the not too distant future.
- Take another look at your recruitment practices.
- Re-evaluate your equal opportunities data. Is it reliable and up to date? Identify any gaps in the data and close those gaps.
- Gather your own intelligence in terms of diversity in your organisation. Put your ear to the ground and find out what is happening.
- Ask yourself, does my organisation reflect the diversity of the communities that it operates in – at all levels? If not ask yourself why not.
- Question your own understanding and commitment. Did you spend a disproportionately lower amount of your time on racial, religious and cultural diversity and inclusion than you should have done?
- Take BAME diversity seriously again. Make sure it features strongly in your Diversity and Inclusion plan.
- Evaluate the racial diversity affinity groups or networks to assess how effective they are.
- Give the National Centre for Diversity a call on 0800 288 4717 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is what we do all day, every day. We would love to chat with you about any