Employees want organisations to address racism

93% of employees believe it's HR's duty to end discrimination for good

Employees want organisations to address racism

An overwhelming number of Australians have agreed that organisations need to take action to address racism in their ranks, after identifying it as an issue in Aussie workplaces.

The Racism at Work report, a study from Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), said that 93% of its surveyed 1,547 Australian employees said that organisations need to address racism.

The survey also found that 88% of the respondents agreed that racism is an issue in Australian organisations, and despite high support in tackling workplace racism, only 27% said their organisations were proactive in preventing it.

"Racism is not only the result of behaviours or attitudes from a few people, rather, as our research shows, it is also embedded in workplace policies, organisations and workplace cultures," said DCA chief executive officer Lisa Annese in a statement.

How to address racism at work

Addressing racism at work will need the participation of workers "at all levels" of an organisation, according to Annese.

"It is the role of workers at all levels of a business, not just people who are racially marginalised, to provide a racially safe workplace and take action to address racism when it arises at work," she said.

This sentiment was shared BY DCA board chair Ming Long.

"No organisation is immune from the scourge of racism," Long said.

"Workers at all levels of a business have a moral and legal imperative to proactively contribute to a racially safe workplace, which means striving to be non-racist themselves and engaging in actions to address racism in their workplace," added the chair.

Both DCA officials also agreed that anti-racism, racial diversity, and equity approaches in workplaces should be focused on the voices of people who experienced racism.

Read more: How to fight xenophobia and racism in the workplace

Addressing racism should also take in consideration the Australian context.

According to Annese, Australia's history includes "pervasive and persistent racism against Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, as well as people of colour, migrants, refugees and their descendants."

"We need to consider our history with race and racism and our current denial to talk about racism specifically/directly," added DCA Member Education Director Virginia Mapedzahama. "Approaches to racism in Australian workplaces will only succeed if they recognise and acknowledge racism as systemic."

Mapedzahama also said responses to racism in the workplace should not shy away from using "race-neutral language."

"That language, though useful in its own right, will not help us tackle racism."

The full report titled "Racism at Work: How Organisations Can Stand Up to and End Workplace Racism" can be found online. It was also sponsored by Diageo, IKEA Australia, Relationships Australia NSW, Arup and QBE.

It provides an "evidence-based organisation framework for anti-racism action" so businesses can address racism.

"These guidelines provide the direction and framework to address workplace racism in Australia, a critical tool in supporting us to deliver a safe, inclusive space for all co-workers to come to work each day. We are very proud to have partnered with DCA to support this work," said Elin Ahlund, people and culture manager of IKEA Australia.

Recent articles & video

Telstra employees' data leaked to the dark web

'They looked at me like I was an alien'

Australian employees suffer mass burnout

Employer who fired worker over Mother's Day plans loses unfair dismissal claim

Most Read Articles

As new laws around sexual harassment come into force, make sure your business is compliant

Telstra employees' data leaked to the dark web

NAB harassment claims unfounded, report finds