CIPD anti-racism support/materials to use at work - what do you need?

UPDATE: https://www.cipd.co.uk/news-views/tackling-racism-workplace

I know that this week has been incredibly difficult for many of you and you will be looking to us, at the CIPD, for advice and guidance. I'm also acutely aware that this isn't just about this week.

We have put together a set of four principles to help support you through addressing evident and deep rooted challenges and we will be expanding on them soon; we would welcome comments and input on them. If you don't think we have done enough then help us understand what you need and what would be helpful.

To be clear - because sometimes it helps to name things - this isn't about general inclusion, although some lessons will be common, but this is specifically about racism and the damage it does. 

We will also be sharing some really honest discussions with people over the coming weeks where they talk about their experiences and what needs to change, but in the meantime we want to hear from you:

  • Let us know what you need from us that would support you and your people.
  • This will help shape our work to make the biggest difference to you and the organisations that you work in or with.
  • We look forward to hearing from you; we are listening.
  • I'd also like to re-share the details of our Wellbeing Support for members for any of you that would benefit.

I know that some people felt we weren't fast enough in responding to current events - we took some time to speak to our people internally to see how they were and what they felt we should say - but I want you to know that we are committed to building something rapidly and then sustaining that momentum over time.

We are trying to find ways to drive positive change together, so please ensure that the conversations here are clear and honest. I've asked that members of the CIPD team step into the conversations where possible to add their thoughts and also to listen. 

  • In reply to David D'Souza:

    Thanks David, I really appreciate this.
  • In reply to Ben Willmott:

    Dear Ben Willmott if consulting 0.01% of your 150,000 membership on ethnicity pay gap (and therefore any discussion about how racism that leads to this one symptomatic example) is your definition of: 'one of the widest consultations of CIPD members as part of a government consultation response over the past few years' then you have set yourselves a very low benchmark indeed. It shows plainly how often CIPD officials simply gaslight BAME to docility as the preference is for silent oppression. I was one of the 60 who attended the roundtable discussion (check your records) and found out belatedly about it due to poor communication when these should have been better attended. Such is my commitment to equality, I was serving on a multi-day ET hearing and literally drove from Watford to Leicester on a cold December evening two attend the event only to find 10 people, 3 were students who thought they would get a presentation from CIPD experts on the subject only to be sorely disappointed until I gave them a more nuanced understanding; One from the law firm who was hosting was anti-introduction of any ethnicity pay legislation as it would be a 'burden' on their clients yet clearly not a burden on BAME who suffer racial disparity in life outcomes and health due to poor levels of income and housing. It is for this reason we are witnessing disproportionate effect from Coronavirus pandemic. Your tools for the pandemic simply fail to integrate these themes to put intersectionality at the heart of policy and as a result members don't are not held to account for the ways in which they are complicit. As result few are genuinely working to 'improve working lives' especially of marginalised BAME groups. Your easy
    readiness to self-congratulate does not inspire trust and confidence that you or the CIPD collectively really understand the dept of feeling given decades of being marginalised by professions who seek to maintain a system that privileges them. Until you and your colleagues are prepared to have an honest and robust conversation about white privilege and face the discomfort this will inevitable involve you will not actually do anything that brings about measurable change whereby those impacted by unjust polices can be the ones who say wow - you have finally righted the past injustices and delivered on your promises to make equality a human right not an optional extra that so often is kicked into the long grass with 'it's not the right time; it's not an overnight thing'.
  • Hi David
    It's interesting that almost 1900 people have viewed this post but there are very limited comments.
    Having learned over the last few weeks that I am a prime example of white privilege in our profession, it doesn't feel right that my voice should be the one who comments on the issues and challenges faced as they are not my experience. Perhaps there are others feeling the same way? And perhaps therein lies the problem that even as a group of people professionals we are not as diverse as we should be?
    I am more than willing to be an agent for change but in order to do that I fully accept I need to have a better understanding of the situation we are in and how we got here.
    I look forward to hearing the outcome of the honest discussions the CIPD are having over the coming weeks and may be in a better position to comment on what is needed to support our people then.
  • In reply to Caroline:

    Hi Caroline/CIPD community,

    I know that I do not work within the four walls of CIPD, but as an active member (and student), I am willing to also help be a change agent/BAME voice for this underlying issue, as I have allot of fresh insightful idea's that can help sift out (if any) discrimination within our HR/CIPD industry, and (with open arms) a warm welcome to #equality #diversity #balance FOR ALL PEOPLE.
    I am just very passionate about our HR industry, and how WE as CIPD are/should be really the 'trailblazers' for this pertinent interminable evolution/change.

    I am reminded by the words of the great American politician, "You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."
    – Shirley Chisholm

    Thank you again David, for this platform.
  • Steve Bridger

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    9 Jun, 2020 17:24

    The Moderator has removed a post that contravenes our Community Guidelines.

  • In reply to Caroline:

    I also believe that many people (in regards to Caroline's comment, "It's interesting that almost 1900 people have viewed this post but there are very limited comments."), are afraid/maybe scared to voice across their concerns/opinions regarding this very sensitive issue, as (maybe) many may feel they will be penalised, frowned/looked down upon, victimised, (etc).

    But we all should remember that a 'job title' (whether we are directors, senior's, management, employees, etc) does not mean that I/you should suffer in silence (as that can lead to mental health issues).

    We all should be free to speak our minds/concerns in a respectable and just manner.
  • In reply to Prince:

    thanks for your contributions.

    I am in a similar position to I am white and recognize I have benefited from white privilege but don't want to use that as a badge or virtue signalling. I have been reading a great book called White Fragility by Robin Diangelo this last weekend which really challenges the thinking and positioning of white people and the white race in the race debate. HR is a white profession by and large and I genuinely believe (but may be delusional) that this is by accident not by design - I think (personally) that very few HR people set out to make it this way but it some how happened. All too often given the choice between a BAME candidate and a white candidate the choice goes the same way.

    I think the CIPD has a lot to do to educate and challenge the profession in this space but I think we all personally also have to face down our own demons and recognize our background has shaped our presence but need not shape our futures.

    Good luck in your journey in the profession
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thanks Keith, hopefully when I get a hr position, I can help effect good/positive change.
  • David, thank you for this. Our staff, in a fairly small company (85 employees) have expressed a desire for a working group to discuss and address these types of issues. I'd be very keen on some great case studies of how working groups can be best set up and how they have addressed the issues concerned.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Finally, a very rare and honest response - Thank you Keith!. I am pleased Prof Robin DiAngelo's book has had an effect on you and you can start your journey to be an effective ally as there are many layers you will have to go through to dismantle your conditioning and start to challenge your peers and not leave the burden to BAME colleagues to carry. Once you see how racism is reinforced through collective acts you will not be able to unseen it if there is any humanity in you to see it is a corrosive social construct that requires a sustained effort to deconstruct it. Once more people are speaking the same language the glacial pace of change can accelerate in leaps and mounds.

    Once CIPD officials and more HR folk start to accept the reason for its homogeneity (predominately white-female) is not a coincidence and that it is a conscious (and not unconscious bias) just as anti-racism is a choice and that you cannot be 'neutral' about racism - you are either for it or against it. More need to question why all they professions look the way they do and act the way, the simple truth is it is to maintain a system that privileges. It is not unconscious but a case of using 'applied knowledge' in the face of irrefutable data about racial disparity for BAME working life outcome and life expectancy. We can only start an honest conversation by challenging the myths and stereotypes about who has 'talent' and how this is defined.

    HR professionals are not exempt from making bias decisions to favour white candidates in covert and overt ways during the recruitment and progress within HR and using white solidarity when a BAME calls it out in relation to their treatment or that of the wider workforce. Most BAME I know who work in HR and the periphery refuse to join the CIPD or admit privately they have cancelled their membership as it offers them little. I and other BAME have experienced over decades how working in a white space is made unbearable so we have to develop coping strategies which CIPD has never offered any support with. BAME colleagues end up being marginalised and traumatised by constant micro-aggressions so the forced choice is to present less of their authentic selves in order to be tolerated rather than celebrated.

    Today Peter Cheese said on the 'Festival of Work' online conference - 'what gets measured, gets done' yet under his leadership it has consistently failed to engage in a discussion about why it feels it is not necessary to monitor ethnicity of its membership as part of its annual membership renewal and publish any action plan to address this, as a result ethnicity pay gap in HR will not get measured nor the racism that contributes to this be honestly discussed. CIPD does not advocate for the auditing of the level of participation of BAME in decision making roles (paid and volunteer); nor does it monitor the progression of BAME in HR and related fields such as HR academia; nor does it demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the psychological impact on BAME wellbeing due to racism within the profession to offer any support. It fails audit it own processes which victimises anyone who does not echo its propaganda messaging that it is some immune to institutional racism.

    Until more HR folk invest their emotional and intellectual energy to improving their racial literacy and resilience to have difficult conversations they will continue to act with clumsy interjections about what is or is not racism - doing more harm than good; continue to design policies and their enactment in ways that will compound the negative lived experiences for not just fellow BAME the wider BAME workforce and their local communities in denying access to good and safe work - the disproportionate impact on BAME workers and communities is testimony to the socio-economic impact. The failure to invest in racial literacy is causing considerable psychological harm most under-estimate the trauma carried by BAME to navigate this white space.

    Surely, any profession that claims to want to 'make a difference' should do no harm?
  • Hi need some advice.
    We where late to address the blm movement not because we don't care we have a diverse workforce and a zero tolerance for any discrimination. It was more that as a small business we are focused on making our way through covid so our employees have incomes and that we are not a political organisation.

    We support diversity completely and our employees come to work and we hope can be their selves regardless of gender race etc.

    We made a statement to the company around being proactive about diversity and setting up diversity groups where those who wish can have a voice on how to be more proactive with diversity in the workplace and we are putting resources and education in place to educate ourselves.

    This doesnt seem to be good enough and our silence whist we decided on how to address and the fact we are discussing diversity as a whole and not solely blm seems to have angered individuals.

    This has put the CEO off completely addressing the company as a whole as he sees our role is to keep our employees employed we provide a safe place to work, we fully and actively support diversity, we believe in a culture where you can bring your self to work and have opinions and views and not to worry about race gender etc. And we actively change any areas brought to our attention. 

    He made a point by saying by concentrating solely on blm I then must do this on the me too movement and may other political movement.we are not a political organisation we are obliged to provide a discrimination free work environment that's as far as we go.

    I kind of agree in the sense that as am Employer that level of duty of care to provide education,policy and a discrimination free work place is what we provide. We hire and reward based on talent, we train on unconscious bias. 

    What do we do now? How do we move forward with addressing diversity to the company, do we keep it as diversity as a whole and the agenda we have to support and educate or do we need to address blm to not look ignorant?


  • Hi David and Team, I have been left underwhelmed by the CIPD’s response to this matter. I have been a people professional for 22 years and have been a member of the CIPD pretty much that entire time. As a black woman, I have never once been asked for my opinion or been invited to engage with the CIPD on race in the workplace...until now...after a mediocre 4 steps has been shared with my professional body. Even the well-being resources are generalised and not considerate of the specific support your black members might need at this time.

    There is so much more that can be done and I am proud to say that we are doing all we can in my business. Even tho we all recognise that we are on a journey, had you asked, we would have shared.

    That said, you have now asked but I don’t think asking members to update via a Community Thread is the only thing you should be doing. Where is the task force of people that you are consulting with on this matter that consists of members of the CIPD who are both living this experience as black people but also allies? Is the senior leadership at CIPD diverse enough to have given better consideration of your response.

    I am more than willing to speak to anyone at the CIPD about this (and other issues for that matter). Please, use this opportunity to engage in a conversation which is not just through the pages of the World Wide Web!
  • And just one more thing whilst I’m here. BAME - that acronym needs reviewing and getting rid of. Ethnic groups are not necessarily minorities when we look through a world lens. We need to stop using limiting, diminishing terminology.
  • In reply to Ange:

    It may not be an ideal term, but what's your alternative suggestion and how would it be better?
  • In reply to Safia:

    We use LEEP. Lived Experience of Ethnic People