Race in the workplace can be contentious but it doesn’t have to be. These conversations that may be difficult but it doesn’t mean that they should be avoided.
Over on our social media platforms we recently put up a post asking for members of the BAME involved in tech to answer a survey for us. It was a specific survey to a specific demographic that is about collating representation of people in different roles and across different industries.
On our Facebook page we had a numerous amount of posts by people claiming we were racist. We were asked what would happen if someone set up a UKWhiteTech. Then they went into other rants about Muslims, etc. Race is difficult for a lot of people to contend with.
Quite recently the McGregor Smith Review was released. This report looked at the impact of racial equality across the workforce. It recognized that even if in principle “every person, regardless of their ethnicity or background, should be able to fulfil their potential at work” and that “there is the business case as well as the moral case”, often companies fall short.
One of the most prominent findings in the report was that “There is discrimination and bias at every stage of an individual’s career, and even before it begins. From networks to recruitment and then in the workforce, it is there. BME people are faced with a distinct lack of role models, they are more likely to perceive the workplace as hostile, they are less likely to apply for and be given promotions and they are more likely to be disciplined or judged harshly.”
The link to the full report is here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/race-in-the-workplace-the-mcgregor-smith-review
Now why is this relevant to the UKBlackTech mission? We are all about inclusion. It is not about, as some fear, about putting a priority or having some kind of positive discrimination because of someone’s race. It is not about shutting out the majority demographic of white people in tech. Rather what we are all about is having a conversation, sometimes uncomfortable, which addresses why some of the problems exist and look to solutions. Pretending the problems don’t exist do not solve the issue. It is not about blame but about developing leadership narratives and cultures which support a fairer playing field. So let’s talk but most importantly let’s listen and then act.