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New guide for discussing racism published

A new guide for how to talk about racism has been published by research initiative Reframing Race.

The guide includes definitions of ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘minoritised’. It details phrases that should be avoided and what could be said instead to make conversations about anti-racism more effective. 

The recommendations are based on research the initiative conducted into language over four years. 

Sanjiv Lingayah, founder of Reframing Race, said the guide will enable employers to challenge ingrained beliefs around race in the workplace. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “Our research found 40% believe that some ethnic groups are naturally harder working than others. 

“This type of deeply held belief in public thinking makes progress much harder unless we have intentional action. A slow road to change is not enough.” 

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Reframing Race’s 2022 study also found three in 10 people in England thought that someone’s race tells you something about their character and one in five people said that some races are born less intelligent than others. 

Lingayah said HR professionals should conduct conversations around racism, rather than just diversity, and that the burden should not fall to colleagues from minoritised ethnicities. 

He said: “We have more than a diversity problem institutionally in the UK; we have a ‘race’ and racism problem.

“We need HR professionals who champion anti-racist and race equity practices inside an organisation. 

“This can be met by resistance from other parts of the organisation, including from senior leadership. Our guide provides HR professionals with words to bring people with them and build support for anti-racist interventions.” 

According to separate research from Business in the Community (BITC), just 41% of employees said their employers were comfortable talking about race in the workplace. 

Speaking to HR magazine, Sandra Kerr, race director at BITC, said: “It is crucial that employers make their employees feel comfortable talking about their backgrounds, and that they communicate the actions they are taking to address disparities transparently.   

Kerr said the way we speak about race inclusion is evolving, and business leaders must be able to deal with the discomfort this may bring up. 

She added: “It is important to research, discuss and ask questions so that we can be in step with these trends and ensure that the language we use when talking about race and racism in the UK is inclusive." 

Reframing Race’s research included focus groups and insights gathered from a study of 20,000 people in England and Scotland published in December 2022.