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Racist abuse faced by celebrities like Marcus Rashford in Euro 2020 help boost workplace diversity initiatives

Over half (59%) of Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers believe momentum behind workplace diversity and inclusion would fizzle out without cases of racism against celebrities.

Newsworthy cases such as the abuse faced by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after the Euro 2020 final, raised the issue of racism in the UK and contributed to public debate. 

New research by networking group People Like Us found Black, Asian and ethnic minority employees are 10% more likely to agree that high-profile acts of racism push the diversity and inclusion agenda than their white counterparts, 58% versus 48%, respectively.

Over half (67%) of racially diverse professionals feel despair that high-profile acts of racism are what drive important conversations around inclusivity in the workplace and feel efforts should be consistent.

Sheeraz Gulsher, co-founder of People Like Us said this data was heart breaking.

She told HR magazine: “Diverse employees shouldn't have to feel that it requires a celebrity or sports star being horrifically abused for racism in the workplace to be taken seriously.

“Prioritising diversity and your diverse employees needs to be approached in a consistent way, not just when it is a trending topic on social media.”

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Speaking to HR magazine Darain Faraz, co-founder of People Like Us, said HR teams must intervene to ensure the D&I agenda is never overlooked by employers.

He said: “HR teams have a critical role to play in ensuring that beyond the headline-grabbing moments, they take the time to put in place strategies to address ongoing challenges with workplace inclusivity.

“Token gestures during times of high-profile cases could seem somewhat hollow otherwise.”

Faraz recommended HR has a proper programme of initiatives and live discussions programmed throughout the year to help mitigate the sense of organisations jumping on an 'anti-racist bandwagon'.

The research also found that despite being less likely to have a productive working from home environment, Black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals are reluctant to return to offices due to wellbeing concerns.

Professionals from racially diverse backgrounds were much more likely than White professionals to be working from their bedroom without a proper desk, as 58% were working in a house with two or more people working from home.

In comparison, only 34% of White professionals were in the same situation.

This could have an impact on future career prospects, as 44% of UK employees said they thought they had missed out on a promotion due to COVID-19 and working from home.

Faraz said: “As the UK workforce tentatively returns to the office the story for the racially diverse workforce is a grim one.

“Despite being less likely to have a productive working from home environment, diverse professionals are reluctant to return to offices due to wellbeing concerns.”

Faraz added this catch 22 underlines the challenges felt by the workforce from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“This is an issue that shouldn’t be overlooked by employers as they prepare workplaces for the return of employees,” he said.


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