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 Ange:

    It's an option to use the term LEEP (not widely used) - so who is 'we' that use it so can understand your context. How does it reflect the racism underpinned by white supremacy ideology (and colourism as a subset of proximity to power) that has justified the Atlantic slave trade and colonialism. In the UK Irish have been historically discriminated by the British, ditto Scottish and Welsh as distinct 'ethnic groups' but they still have #WhitePrivilege so how do you square that with your LEEP term?
  • In reply to Safia:

    LEEP is the terminology we (LEEPers) have chosen to use in the business I work for. It’s terminology that we created following an internal workshop so I doubt very much that it is being used elsewhere. We have actively banned the use of BAME. LEEPers are any non-white individuals from other races/ethnic backgrounds.
  • In reply to Tammie:

    There are multiple problematic points in your post that show you, your CEO and your organisation are still on your journey to understand the nuances within racism and this is where the CIPD's tools and input could be better to help you address the response by your CEO as his attitude will set the tone for the rest of the organisation:

    1) Look at critical race theory to to challenge the notion of 'unconscious bias' v 'applied knowledge' to ensure systems of privilege - see the recent Amy Cooper incident in USA as an example to examine this.

    2) the assumption that 'we believe in a a culture where you can bring your self to work' - who is 'we' - can you evidence the lived experience of the workforce and create a safe space for them to talk honestly - because the feedback is they are 'angered' by the dilution of racism as represented by the specific issue of BlackLivesMatter movement by the broader Diversity & Inclusion

    3) the statement 'we actively change any areas brought to our attention' conflicts with saying 'we are not a political' organisation - framing BLM as a 'political movement' - politics is life and life is politics. The fact your CEO things BLM should not be the focus despite the global response to George Floyd (and 100's of others in similar situations both in UK and USA who have been murdered at the hands of police brutality and the organisational and judicial response is to deflect from holding white officers to account is deeply offensive and insensitive hence the response of righteous anger your staff feel.
    4) the response to the anger by your CEO is to get defensive is problematic - explore #WhiteFragility
    5) Your CEO thinking that if you focus on BLM, it means the company has to also consider the #MeToo movement inferring a sense of exasperation of where does it stop? Again you are also framing this as 'political' and somehow not the company's business when no organisation exists in a vacuum. Why does your CEO believe human's are one-dimensional? to look at each protective characteristic in isolation will simply lead your organisation to simplistic tick box solutions

    Perhaps what your CEO need is 1-2-1 coaching to sensitise him to see how he fits into BLM and the equality agenda to get him to explore the above themes so he can role model inclusive leadership - because from what you have said this is not happening despite your best intentions. Finally, audit your practices and bring the measurable evidence to your CEO/management team of the lived experience of your staff along the employee life cycle. This lived experience is not contained in your policies and value statements - those are simply statements of intent.

    I hope this helps.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    12 Jun, 2020 10:23

    In reply to Safia:

    Hi Safia,

    "This lived experience is not contained in your policies and value statements - those are simply statements of intent."

    I do agree with you and understand also how implicit biases can contradict even declared values... and I have identified some books I want and need to need. I guess I struggle a bit as the way you frame the discussion also applies different 'labels' to people and, frankly probably paralyses most people from participating.

    I value the discussion.

  • Hi David. We are advocating that any of our employees affected by current events speak to their line managers (among other things). However some line managers lack the knowledge or confidence to have those conversations - are there any resources we can share with them please?
  • Hi David
    I highly appreciated the courage and dignity you have shown by even discussing this topic “racism” or lack of equal opportunity that is all steering in our faces today and so called corporate world where is even more rooted. We all pretend is not happening on our watch but we are indirectly instrumental to this repugnant and social injustice to people of colour. Inequality is a big plaque in this society and been perceived as a normal and way of life. I really applauded CIPD for acknowledging the existence of discrimination and inequality in different organisations . He that has the wound know’s where it hurts most l am a victim of racial injustice, discrimination an act of man inhumanity to his fellow man so I know where it hurts. I hope your voice can make a difference cheers!!!! Sylvia Mgbeahurike
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    14 Jun, 2020 13:17

    In reply to Steve Bridger:

    I found this very helpful to my understanding so thought I'd share.


    ...and this from the Festival of Work last week.

  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Thanks Steve - those are both very helpful and I will share them with my colleagues. Be interested to hear of any further resources available from you/CIPD/other colleagues too. Thanks all.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    15 Jun, 2020 12:31

    In reply to Geraldine Lewis:

    Hi - we published this on Friday, which outlines some of what we recognise we need to do...

    I found this over the weekend, too. An evolving resource "for white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work."
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Thanks (again) Steve, this is all very useful, partic the list of resources on google docs. I think the CIPD overarching document is good, but is obviously more long-term, strategic and wide-ranging. Am conscious that our managers may be having the conversations with their people today, tomorrow, this week, so things like the John Amaechi list of "pointers" that you highlighted were particularly succinct and useful, thanks. But I will obviously point our managers to the articles and longer reads too.
  • In reply to Caroline:

    You have put this so well Caroline, I too feel exactly the same way, thank you for putting it so well
  • As a black woman who has worked in HR (training) for a number of years I felt it important to express my opinions.
    I believe the reason why there has been thousands of views on this forum but hardly any comments, especially from black people, is that its difficult to put our feelings and experiences into words. My experiences have left me with feelings of anger and frustration that run very deep even though I stopped working in an office environment in 2016. I still have deep feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and frustration from dealing with the microaggressions every day at work which in no way has ever been dealt with and probably never will be. There has been no justice or fairness and after I had initially complained about two racist incidences I had experienced and witnessed and nothing was done I had chosen to no longer approach HR or my manager with anymore complaints.
    The environment I worked in was generally racist with HR and managers choosing to turn a blind eye to any complaints or they were the instigators themselves.
    This meant that managers and staff are empowered to be able to make racist comments or covert racist behaviour without being challenged. Racism then becomes a normal part of the organisations landscape.
    In my last role I worked in HR and found it difficult to complain about my own racist manager as she had a close relationship with the HR managers and directors and I didn’t feel empowered to do this. Even when I left I chose not to pursue things as I felt depleted of energy, dejected and was financially not able to afford it (I was unemployed). What I have found is if the working environment is not conducive to open and honest discussions about incidences of racism and investigations conducted things just stagnate, are buried and remain the same. No progress can be made in such an environment. HR has to play an active part in the improvements within the workplace.

    In my experience the people that cause the most damage are the ones that claim to understand what EDI means. The ‘nice’ people who appear to be diversity and inclusion champions can be the most covert racists and most damaging to black people in the workplace. The very managers that sat on interview panels and recruited me have often turned out to be the worse offenders but are often seen by others as EDI (equalities, diversity and inclusion) ambassadors as they have recruited a black member of staff into their teams/ organisations. The racism I experienced escalated when I moved into a management role, including not being able to gain a new training management role when I decided to leave. Black people have had to develop resilience to cope with racism on a daily basis. The coping strategy I used was simply to leave when things escalated .

    Black people are often isolated especially when in senior positions and I was one of only two black managers in this organsiation. Although others may be empathetic to racism someone who has had similar experiences will be much more empathetic and so more able to understand the feelings of anger and frustration racism can cause.
    I agree with Safia in her posts where she states that HR is predominantly white and favours white candidates. Having been in HR/ Training for over 30 years I have personally experienced this many times over the years when applying for jobs. In the past I always estimated that it would take at least 10+ interviews for me to successfully gain a post, and only on two occasions have I ever been proved wrong.
    After leaving my last job in 2016 due to racism and bullying I found I could not get another training manager post despite having full CIPD membership an MA in HRM and 30 years + experience. I applied for EDI posts (my passion) and other training positions within local authorities, the charity sector and the NHS with no joy. I stopped counting the interviews I attended after 15. I feel my skills experience and abilities have been wasted as I have supported many organisations through training and raising awareness of EDI and the Equalities Act and have the lived experiences of the racism I have experienced and the feelings this can cause. I feel weary, annoyed and frustrated that I have not been able to realise my full potential in my career and have not been able to formally retire from employment like others as no-one will recruit me.

    A good way forward is to ask black people about our experiences and what we think might help to progress this situation as I believe racism in the workplace is worse than white people realise. I have never been asked about my experiences and given the chance to speak to someone who actually wants to listen and perhaps understand and/or has shared experiences of racism would be a welcomed change. This needs to include staff from all sectors ( for example Public, NHS, Charity, Private).

    I’m more than happy to facilitate groups to aid this discussion because I believe HR is at a crucial point to be able to effect positive change and open discussions may be one of the ways forward. In my past roles I have found that embedding EDI into other training topics and having EDI discussions within a safe training environment works well.
    I also believe that equalities, diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process to deal with topics such as unconscious bias is essential.
    I believe if actions aren’t taken immediately this opportunity for improvements will be missed and things will sadly remain the same.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    16 Jun, 2020 06:57

    In reply to Cherriane:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, and welcome to the Community.
  • Thanks Safia for so eloquently saying what I have personally experienced as a black CIPD member for over 20 years. CIPD please really listen to what Safia has said here. We have a great opportunity to make a real change now.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    18 Jun, 2020 07:02

    In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Tackling racism in the workplace

    Resources and guidance to help people professionals tackle racism and racial discrimination in the workplace