Over the past year we have all been challenged and reminded of how deep-rooted racism is in society and how it remains a lived experience for people from ethnic minorities. This is particularly evident for black people, as seen through the strength of feeling in the Black Lives Matter movement. We have far to go in building fair and truly inclusive societies, and organisations have a responsibility to take action and commit to positive change. Stamping out racism in all forms, whether covert or overt, should be at the heart of responsible business.

Our profession, the people profession, has a fundamental and primary role in leading the awareness and understanding of racism at work, and the changes in culture, behaviours, policies, practices and learning to make the difference. Despite greater focus on inclusion and diversity initiatives in recent years, progress on tackling racism has been too slow. We must challenge ourselves to understand the often less visible barriers and cultures that have allowed racism to persist.

As the CIPD, we recognise our responsibilities and the need for leadership. The issues are complex and deep-rooted, and we have to listen but also move to and encourage action. We are engaging with our members and the profession about what needs to be done to drive change. We are also working with external experts to challenge us as an organisation and as a professional community.

The CIPD is focusing on three key areas to end racism at work:

  1. Policy reform – We will continue to call on Government to make policy changes to ensure organisations address the issue of bias and racism, and to give our profession voice. As part of this, the CIPD submitted evidence to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in November 2020. We, along with many other organisations and individuals, were then disappointed to see that the Commission’s conclusions failed to reflect the evidence that clearly shows that institutional racism and discrimination continue to be an issue in our society and our workplaces. In particular, we were disappointed to see that progress on ethnicity pay reporting has stalled. This is perhaps the only lever available to provide a point of evidence on this issue of discrimination and lack of progression for ethnic minorities at work so we’ll continue to press for the introduction of ethnicity pay reporting, as well as recommending other public policy changes that we believe can drive change forward.

  2. Provide support for organisations to act – We have developed guidance and FAQs, which include advice on how to open up the conversations around race, as well as podcasts and a series of webinars aimed at raising awareness and challenging organisations to think differently on race at work. And we continue to develop more, including resources to support both line managers and senior leaders. We will work with partners to drive commitments to change across organisations everywhere. We also commit to ensuring that the CIPD itself can become a role model, to improve our practices and representation of diversity right across the organisation.

  3. Attract and support progression of black and ethnic minority people professionals – We recognise the need to enable progression for black and ethnic minorities within our profession. We've increased our commitment to this at senior level with 49% of our Aspiring HRDs programme coming from ethnic background. We're planning to further increase our support at senior and mid-level as well as enabling greater access to the profession.

At the CIPD we want to find ways to drive positive change together with our worldwide community of members, and the wider people profession. We can only create lasting change if we work together to create fair and inclusive societies. We pledge to keep listening, to dedicate our resources to improve our support and to sustain our efforts over time.