In January it was revealed that anti-Semitic assaults had risen by 34% between 2016 and 2017. With fears that anti-Semitism is a growing problem in the UK, is this affecting workplaces? Is it a neglected area of D&I, and what’s HR’s role?
Gideon Schulman, HR director at Pytronot, says:
"Just as Jeremy Corbyn stands accused of inadequate leadership in managing anti-Semitism in his party, employers must equally not fail to take responsibility for the anti-Semitism that exists within workplaces. Organisation heads should set an appropriate tone and culture – championed and guided by HR.
"Most employers comply with legislation, but they should endeavour to do more. As with any relationship, organisations must communicate with their employees to understand and address concerns. This particular issue affects the Jewish community, but other minority groups may be concerned that they’re next.
"Employers should reassure staff there is zero tolerance towards any form of intolerance. HR should introduce support mechanisms such as counselling, and organisations should review their D&I agendas to educate staff on intolerance, including anti-Semitism. This may involve seeking guidance from Jewish community groups such as Community Security Trust or the Board of Deputies of British Jews."
Dave Rich, head of policy for Community Security Trust, says:
"Recent headlines about anti-Semitism are a reminder that one of the many roles of HR is to ensure that employees have a work environment free from bullying and discrimination.
"An HR department with an open door is useful. But more powerful is when line managers with strong people management skills take responsibility for preventing conflicts. A positive and safe workplace culture can be promoted through codes of conduct and enabling people to talk freely about unacceptable behaviours.
"Anti-Semitic attitudes may be the result of ignorance rather than conscious prejudice, in which case education is a helpful part of any disciplinary process. Jewish groups can help with identifying anti-Semitic language and educating against it."