Managing Diversity in UK
This world is home to people from many different nations, races, cultures, religions and ethnicity, all with their own system of values, lifestyle, faith, believes and origin. Some of the people form the majority at the place where they live in and some of them are left but as minority. The people take up different professions, take admissions in different institutes and are designated with the task of doing a number of jobs. The people from the minority group try to integrate themselves in the larger context of the environment where they work and live in but at the same time, maintaining their individual identities is one of the main objectives. At times, the minority groups have to face a number of different issues while interacting with members from the majority group.
One such issue faced by members of a certain race is of racial discrimination, which results in making them stand at some sort of disadvantage against the others. In the earlier days, minority groups had to face more injustice and issues and were not available with a lot of means to provide solutions to their problems but now times have changed and people are more aware of their rights and duties, not only this but different legislations are passed by governments to protect the members of the minority against any form of injustice. The minority groups today enjoy more freedom and rights than they ever did but that doesn’t mean that there are no more biasness, prejudice or discrimination against them. There are still people who are part of the larger environment who dominate different fields of life and they do not look upon favorably on the members of the minority groups and look for opportunities to get rid of them or humiliate them.
This report discusses what discrimination is and its different types, racial discrimination in UK and the different legislations that have been passed to protect against it, the workplace issues in UK related to racial discrimination and the impact that these have on people.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour,
“Racism lies at the roots of many conflicts; it poses risks to international peace and security. Racism is the springboard for extremism and all types of intolerance.”
Discrimination occurs when members of the minority group are treated differently from others resulting in unfavorable outcomes or biases for them. the discrimination may result in various disadvantages for the members of the minority groups. Discrimination may be direct or indirect:
· Direct discrimination:
Discrimination which occurs when a person – because of their race , ethinc origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation – is treated less favorably than others in a similar situation (“EU”, 2007). For example, a person is refused from employment because of his race.
· Indirect discrimination:
Discrimination which occurs when a person stands at a disadvantage in an other wise neutral practice, provision or criterion on the basis of his/her race , ethinc origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, unless the practice is legal by justifying the act in an objective manner (“EU”, 2007). For example, a person of a minority group is not considered while giving promotions or the scale of the promotion is comparatively lesser than those for the majority group.
Discrimination against a person on the basis of race is known as racial discrimination. There are four main kinds of racial discrimination:
· direct discrimination – this is an intention discrimination against people of a specific racial group.
· indirect discrimination – subtle discrimination in working practices, provisions or criteria which results in disadvantage for members of any racial group
· harassment – this is the type of discrimination which allows or encourage offensive behavior or hostile atmosphere for people of a particular race.
· victimisation – discrimination where a person is treated less favourably because of involvement in a complaint about racial discrimination against himslef or someone else (“Directgov”, 2008)
Racial Statistics of UK from Census, 2001
The 2001 Census shows:
7.9% of the total population belongs to the ethnic minority population of the UK.
In England out of the total population, the ethnic minorities are 9%, they are 2% in Scotland and less than 1% in Northern Ireland.
The population share of some important ethnic groups is: Indian 1.8%, Pakistani 1.3%; Black Caribbean 1%, Black African 0.8%, Chinese 0.4%, Bangladeshi 0.5% (Cohen, 2004).
Racial discrimination in UK- historical perspective
Historically, racial discrimination was not prohibited by the British law and prejudice towards different nations was widespread. With the increasing number of immigrants over time, the government thought of the diverse immigrants as the problem and not the racism, so in order to lower the rate of migration, the government passed the 1905 Aliens Act .after the end of the second world war, Britain was faced with the issue of reconstruction and because of the dearth of local labor, the immigrants who were willing to help had to be put to use. The immigrants were viewed as threat by the British citizens and there was public hostility towards them which later resulted in street crimes. in view of these and the success of the American civil rights movement, the British government introduced The Race Relations Act 1965 which laid laws to curtail racial discrimination and thus began practices against racial discrimination (CRE, 2005) and the first legislation was later followed by more legislations.
Discrimination laws in UK
Individuals in the United Kingdom (UK) can register complains with courts when they face discrimination because of specific legislation on equality that outlaws discrimination and provide minorities with a mechanism for doing so. The legislation prohibits any from of discrimination whether it is on the grounds of race, religion and belief, sex, sexual orientation and transgender status, disability and age (“liberty”, 2007).
At certain times, discrimination may be justified legally when “the importance of the aim to be achieved is proportionate to the impact that the discrimination will have on the individual who is being discriminated against” (“liberty”, 2007).
The first legislation was introduced more than 30 years ago, in 1965 and laid emphasis on immigration but from that time onwards, the emphasis has shifted from immigration to those to issues of British-born minority ethnic communities, which are an important part of the mainstream of British life. This ethnic diversity is vital to defining and adding value to contemporary Britain (BritainUSA, 2008).
The Race Relations Act 1965
The first Act that was passed against racial discrimination was The 1965 Race Relations Act which defined racial discrimination as less favorable treatment of one person than another on the basis of colour , race ,or ethnic or national origins. The provisions of this Act were limited and didn’t introduce measures to stop discrimination in jobs and housing (CRE, 2005)
The Race Relations Act 1968
This Act broadened the scope of law for the existing definition of racial discrimination and made it illegal to racially discriminate in employment, providing goods, facilities, services, housing, trade unions and advertising. This law continued to discriminate in employment and housing through government services, small residential dwellings where the landlord or their family members lived and small businesses (CRE, 2005).
Race Relations Act, 1976
The Race Relations Act (The RRA), 1976 provides protection from race discrimination in the fields of employment, education, training, housing, and the provision of goods, facilities and services (article id: 374, 2004)
The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 deals makes it a criminal offence “to employ a person who is not entitled to live or work in the United Kingdom”, thus making it necessary for employers to carry checks on new employees to ensure that they are entitled to live and work in the UK before the commencement of employment. This law is related to the RRA as The Commission for Racial Equality has notified employers not to breach the Race Relations Act while framing practices to ensure compliance with the immigration Act. This can be done by making sure that the checks are conducted at the same stage and in the same way for all applicants, without bias or discrimination on the basis of their race, colour or ethnic background (CEPR, n.d.).
Race Relations Amendment Act, 2000
In 2000, amendments in RRA resulted in the Race Relations Amendment Act (The RRAA), which is just a modification of the RRA and promotes the responsibility of public bodies to tackle institutional racism, consequently ensuring the provision of fair, accessible and non-discriminatory services. The main focus of this Act is on promoting public authorities’ role in provision of race equality, as well as in extending protection against racial discrimination (article id: 374, 2004)
Authorities should employ some principle to ensure that they comply with the duties posed over them by this law, some of the guidelines to such practice include:
it is obligatory for local authorities to promote racial equality
in all different functions, local authorities must meet the duty to promote racial equality
The legislation applies irrelevant to the size of the local black and minority ethnic population.
The weight given to racial equality should be proportionate to its relevance (Nottingham)
The 2003 ‘European ’Regulations
In the year 2000, the EU Directive on Race introduced racial discrimination laws across the EU and member states were obliged to alter their own national laws accordingly. With the motive to incorporated the European directive into British law, the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 were introduced. This amendment further broadened the scope of law by increasing protection against harassment in non-employment cases, post employment rights to bring claims, a new burden of proof and a revised genuine occupational qualification (CRE, 2005).
Firms forced to prove they are not racist
In alignment with EU’s directive, a new code makes it compulsory for employers to prove their innocence in court, in case of an accusation of racial discrimination against them. as a result, this law reverses the burden of proof in cases involving race discrimination in the workplace and education. This law doesn’t infringe the rights of the accused but only shifts the burden of evidence as the claimant must still have a solid factual case to get the process going, but the main focus is on the accused to prove their innocence once the claimant has provided established facts to discrimination. Besides, third party organisations and lobbies also have a right to file race lawsuits on behalf of claimants. The stipulations are justified on the grounds that it can be hard for race victims to obtain required evidence in order to prove their case in court (“icare”, 2000).
Equality Bodies and the Commission for Equality and Human Rights
Previously, three separate bodies existed in UK to deal with matter of discrimination, namely:
· Commission for Racial Equality.
· Disability Rights Commission.
· Equal Opportunities Commission (“liberty”, 2007).
But now a new single equality body is in progress, called Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR), which will integrate the work of the three separate Commissions. The CEHR will more legislations more effectively using the powers of the three previous commissions and also new ones of their own, this will help in promoting equality for all. Promotion of human rights will also be a part of the domain of CEHR. Some of the benefits of CEHR may include:
Providing a single source of information and advice by equality experts
Increase awareness of equality issues in business environments.
Dealing with multiple discriminations faced by some people.
Providing a single point of contact for different people and businesses (“liberty”, 2007).
Theories underlying racial discrimination
there are some theories that explain the underlying causes of racial discrimination where racial discrimination is divided into separate categories.
· intentional discrimination:
In 1954, Gordon Allport, expressed the sequential steps as a result of which an individual may behave negatively toward members of another racial group, these steps are:
1. verbal antagonism
4. physical attack
Each step is sequential and one enables the next, as people learn by doing and these steps are usually proceeding after getting some sort of re enforcement at stage one to move to stage two.
Verbal antagonism occurs when casual racial slurs and disparaging racial comments, are passed on to a person of a specific race, either in or out of the target’s presence. These comments in their own self may not be unlawful but they definitely express hostility. These may result in nonverbal expressions of antagonism and creation of a hostile environment in workplaces. In legal settings, verbal and nonverbal treatment may often be used as evidence of a discriminator’s biased state of mind. This theory is very much applicable in real life situations, to illustrate the point: in organizations, while conducting an interview, an interviewer is at times, initially biased against a potential candidate on the basis of race. As a result, the interviewer cuts short the interview on the pre decided assumptions or at times keep the interviewer at distance. Such actions provide evidence of verbal antagonism in reality and may be used in the court of law as proof against discrimination. (“Research council”, 2004).
Avoidance involves preferring one’s own racial group over interaction with another racial group. In discretionary contact, it may happen that the members of the minority racial group may be left all alone by others. In work settings, this discretionary contact may result in the minority race being forced into lower-status occupations or unjust rewards. Avoidance may be apparently harmless but its cumulative effects may be serious as they may result in long-term exclusion and segregation. It may be particularly problematic in employment hiring and promotion as social networking is important here. Because of several legislations, this evident form of racial discrimination is not prevalent in UK organizations (“Research council”, 2004).
Segregation is the stage where members of a disadvantaged racial group are excluded while allocating resources or providing access to institutions. Denial of employment on the basis of race is example of segregation which is punishable by the RRA (“Research council”, 2004).
Physical attacks on racial outgroups are linked to other overt forms of discrimination and may result in hate crimes, which are kind of an expression of explicit prejudice (“Research council”, 2004).
“Extermination typically encompass histories of institutionalized prejudice and discrimination, difficult life conditions, strong (and prejudiced) leadership, social support for hostile acts, and socialization that accepts explicit discrimination” (“Research council”, 2004).
· Subtle, Unconscious, Automatic Discrimination:
It is not always necessary that the discrimination is explicit as discrimination is discouraged but sometimes, the attitudes towards different races may result in unconscious and subtle forms of racial discrimination. Members who discriminate may have good intentions but they are often victims of an internal conflict, resulting from a disconnection between the societal rejection of racist behaviors and the societal persistence of racist attitudes. Subtle forms of racism may be indirect, automatic, ambiguous or ambivalent. The response to out group members may also vary according to the level of proximity between them for instance, if out group members are familiar, subordinate, or unique to the in group members, then they do not elicit the same reactions as those who are unfamiliar, dominant, or undifferentiated (“Research council”, 2004).
Indirect prejudice is where the members of ingroup (larger race) blame the disadvantaged racial group for their disadvantage; this attitude is an example of indirect prejudice. The underlying logic is that because of differences of the outgroup, their members are made to feel as outsiders worthy of avoidance and exclusion (“Research council”, 2004).
Subtle prejudice can also be categorized as unconscious and automatic. Outgroup members may be unconsciously categorized on the racial, gender or age basis. People’s automatic response to outgroup members may include negative stereotypic associations and discriminatory behavioral impulses. The default automatic reactions to members of disadvantaged race often indicate greater liking for the majority rather than intentional disliking for the minority (“Research council”, 2004)
Subtle prejudice in its ambivalent form indicates that members of outgroups are not necessarily subjected to uniform antipathy but may be disrespected but liked in a condescending manner or they may be respected but disliked. This is indicative of another theory of discrimination and that is reactions need not be entirely negative to foster discrimination (“Research council”, 2004)
· Statistical Discrimination and Profiling
Another process that may mark discriminatory consequences for members of a disadvantaged racial group is statistical discrimination or profiling, where overall beliefs about a group are used to make decisions about an individual from that group. this form of discrimination may be self-perpetuating, since today’s outcomes may also determine the path of action for tomorrow’s behavior. To illustrate the point, if an employer believes that people with criminal records make unsatisfactory employees and that on the average blacks are more likely to have criminal records, then in absence of an applicant’s criminal history, the employer may judge a black job applicant to have criminal characteristics on the basis of the group characteristic (“Research council”, 2004).
An employer might use statistical discrimination while making decisions due to limited information. When information is limited or not sufficient, there is incentive to statistically discriminate because assessments about a host of unknown factors might have to be made based on the provided highly limited information and observation. Another aspect of this, if we look deeper, is that the decision maker keeps in consideration knowledge about differences in related average group characteristics to which the individual belongs to; consequently, the individual about whom the decision is being made faces different treatment because of information associated with his or her racial group. for instance if black Americans are barred from top corporate jobs in an organization, there may be reduced incentives for younger black men and women to pursue academic credentials and career experience that will result in obtaining top corporate jobs (“Research council”, 2004).
Practically, these theories are reflected in different cases of racial discrimination that occurs in UK organization. Even though RRA lays rules to curtail discrimination but still employers and organizational members discriminate against members of other races in some places. Theories of intentional discrimination are applicable but is evidenced in small number of cases whereas the examples of theories of subtle, unconscious, automatic discrimination are more widely available ever since the RRA was introduced
The three types of racial discrimination that explain the underlying reasons for discrimination focus on individual behaviors that result in adverse outcomes and differences in outcomes for disadvantaged racial groups (“Research council”, 2004).
People make up an organization and for this reason, an organization tend to behave in a similar manner as its members and reflect many of the same biases as the people who operate within them. If the processes of an organization function in such a way that results in differential racial treatment or differential racial outcomes, such an embedded institutional process may be called structural discrimination (“Research council”, 2004).
An example of this type of institutional process is in the function of hiring and promotion networks within firms. Referrals are an important source of recruiting in every organization; some of the firms hire more people through word-of-mouth recommendations from their existing employees rather than through external means. This practice is visibly racially neutral, but incase existing white employees recommend their friends and neighbors, the whites will continue to increase in the firm, automatically excluding other races. These practices may work as an evidence for legal action when the issue is about the exclusion of certain groups. Seniority systems may also work in this same way when they give preference to a long-established group of employees (“Research council”, 2004).
Racism at workplaces
Through a survey, it has been found that many of the women in UK believe workplaces to be racist and career choice limited by ethnic background. According to Commission for Racial Equality, black and Asian women face discrimination at work because of both gender and race; therefore, companies need to take notice and device measures to control this (BBC, 2002).
The Commission for Racial Equality has statistics that show employment as the major issue faced by ethnic minority communities these days. Despite the anti discrimination law enacted and still in place to protect ethnic minorities at work, racism is still widely existing in workplaces across the UK (CRE stats, 2007).
Most of the complaints received by the CRE are linked to employment and commonly consists of issues like workplace bullying, lack of career progression and inability to secure interviews; and the number of complains are still on the rise. Similar results are visible from National unemployment figures, which show that the unemployment rate for ethnic minorities is over 11 per cent and this is twice the national average; more statistic show that amongst people with similar qualifications, those from ethnic minority groups do not receive the same rewards as those from white backgrounds (CRE stats, 2007).
Dealing with racial discrimination at work
There may be situations at workplace where a person feels that another employee or management member, other than the immediate boss is being discriminating against him/her because of the race to which he/she belongs to, then the situation should be brought into the notice of the immediate boss or employee representative and all related concerns should be explained. If the discrimination is being done by line manager or supervisor, then their boss or the company’s HR department should be contacted (“Directgov”, 2008).
A complaint may also be registered through employer’s grievance procedure in case the employer doesn’t want to help. The last resort may be to contact Equality and Human Rights Commission or local Racial Equality Council, if there is one, for advice or file a claim of race discrimination to an Employment Tribunal (“Directgov”, 2008)
Sometimes, it may happen that a certain racial group receives more support or encouragement from an employer than the others, this is know as positive action. Such practice is only legal in places where a specific racial group is badly under-represented in the work force of the employer. The employer may provide special training or encouragement to do work or fill up vacant positions for members of the racial group but there can be no favortism for the minority at the time of chosing people for a task (“Directgov”, 2008). For instance, members of Asian community may be encouraged to apply for a specific position at job by welcoming them to do so but it doesn’t, in any way, implies that the employer while deciding whom to employ, favors the Asians without consideration of whether they actually deserve the job or not. Such situation where the members of the minority are preferred over those of the majority group while making decisions is referred to as ‘positive discrimination’ and this is evidently different from positive action.
Evidence of racial discrimination
The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) has issued guidelines to businesses telling them how to avoid unlawful racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace, yet, in one unique case in the UK, racist comments were heard by a Maltese national between her supervisor and another employee. The decision of the case turned out in the favor of the claimant as it was ruled unanimously that the supervisor and the employer were guilty of racial discrimination and hence were ordered to pay compensation to the claimant (“HIE”, 2006).
Legislations have been passed and guidelines have been issued to prevent racial discrimination, yet, many UK organisations have not taken any action because they believe they will never be taken to a tribunal; the reason being that 86 per cent of respondents believe they have sufficient HR policies and procedures in place. According to Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula: “It is alarming that despite the fact that employers have had time to prepare many have not implemented the new laws (Thomas, 2004).
Discrimination against people on basis of their race, age, gender or any other aspect is highly discouraged across the world. In order to curtail discriminatory practices in different areas of life like education, housing work force etc, governments introduce legislations that lay down rules to guide people in their conduct when dealing with people of disadvantaged groups. In UK, one such legislation is also in affect called race legislation act which ensures protection of the rights of minorities to a great extent.
There may be different reasons behind the question that why people discriminate against others and may include indirect, intentional or statistical discrimination to explain the reasons. A workplace is also affected by discriminatory practices and people from disadvantaged groups are often faced by issues of discrimination. When this happens, the affected members may follow procedures and seek help in order to get justice and their due rights. Sometimes, the discrimination may even be positive which means that it encourages minority races instead of discouraging them.
Government of UK is trying its best to erase racial discrimination but a phenomenon like this which has been engraved for so long in the culture, is hard to over come. There are people and organizations who are putting in efforts to help the government but there are still others who are not bothered about it and only help in making things worse. People should realize that the different races are all part of the system that God has created and each of them have their own unique characteristics and lifestyles, which should be respected. It in unjust to bring someone harm because of the mere fact that they are not a part of the larger society and belong to a minority group.
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