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Who are the ‘global majority’?

The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has adopted the term ‘people of the global majority’ to refer to all ethnic groups except white British and other white groups.

This includes people from black, Asian, mixed and other ethnic groups who are often called ‘ethnic minorities.’

The organisation will use 'global majority’ to replace terms such as BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), which it had been told were outdated, according to Woosh Raza, director of people, culture and inclusion at NCVO.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “We know the language we use is important and the words we use to describe our identity holds power.

“We know that there will never be one perfect term that encapsulates the complex, rich and varied history, and culture of those that are part of the global majority in Britain. That’s why we commit to constantly evolving the language we use.”

Read more: New guide for discussing racism published

Businesses should use data to ensure they are using terms which people are comfortable with to describe their identity, according to Sandra Kerr, race director at charity Business in the Community.

She told HR magazine: “When we choose the words we use to refer to particular groups of people, we should choose words based on what evidence has shown that people are most comfortable with. 

“Employers should be guided by conversations and internal surveys on terminology with their own employees and employee resource groups and networks.

“If evidence shows that global majority is the terminology which people want, businesses should use this term."

Jackie Handy, an inclusive leadership consultant, said it is impossible to find terms which satisfy everyone, and using the term global majority could risk alienating white people.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “Labels of any nature will have raving fans and fierce critics. There will be people who welcome the shift of focus from ‘minority' to ‘majority' and those who align with neither term. 

“Additionally, the danger of the term global majority could drive a bigger wedge in an already divided society with the portion of caucasian people already feeling as though they are now being overlooked, viewing this term as a further snub; something marginalised communities of all natures have lived with for decades.”

Read more: How to cultivate inclusive language in the workplace

Handy said organisations should place more emphasis on dismantling prejudice than choosing terms to describe it with.

She added: “In my opinion, the real focus of attention should be focused on dismantling systemic racism, creating safe spaces and greater understanding for difference. If we can get that right, the labels we use will be of less importance.”