Employers must take urgent action to identify and stamp out racist behaviour in the workplace, a report commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC) has stated.
The report, which used data collected by YouGov and examined by researchers at The University of Manchester, found that ethnic minority workers are frequently subjected to racism by their colleagues, managers, customers, clients, and service users, which can have a severe impact on their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Racism was also reported to have a negative impact on careers in terms of recruitment and reducing opportunities for additional training and promotion.
The report also found evidence of white British employees believing that activities promoting equality and diversity give ethnic minority workers preferential treatment.
Frank Douglas, CEO of Caerus Executive and former group HRD at Transport for London, described the report as a wake-up call. "The BITC report represents sad and shocking reading," he told HR magazine. "Following on from the Parker Review last week, once again we are reminded that race is an issue that cannot and shouldn't be avoided in the highest levels of companies and government.
"The conversation around race is a muscle that's atrophied. I have seen clients who have embraced the conversation on BAME in their workplace and others who do not see it as a priority or 'agenda' item.
"But the conversation around race cannot be conveniently subsumed in the dialogue regarding social mobility. This report is another wake-up call that we need to move forward on understanding the lived experiences of BAME employees and the corporate responsibility to respond."
BITC is calling on employers to devise equality targets, including timeframes and action plans for achieving them.
“The 2015 Race at Work report further reinforces the need for employers to take immediate action against the entrenched nature of racism and racial inequality,” said Stephen Ashe, research associate at the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity, University of Manchester.
“It is also worth noting that it is almost 50 years since the Race Relations Act was amended to outlaw racial discrimination in employment. Once again we are asking a question that has been asked many times before: does the government have the political will to ensure that employers comply with existing legislation and equality duties, and to apply heavy sanctions in cases of non-compliance?”