People with black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds often fare less well than their white counterparts at work. What can be done about it, asks Rekha Soni, a member of the CSP BME network.
For years it’s been uncomfortable. It’s been the elephant in the room. It’s been labelled as ‘playing the race card’. It’s been denied, brushed under the carpet and forgotten about.
The data shows that black and minority ethnic (BME) workers are systematically treated more badly than their white colleagues. TUC research showed that BME workers with a degree earned 23 per cent less on average than their white counterparts. Data collected for the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) in 2015 show that NHS BME staff are disadvantaged in many ways. This includes recruitment, higher levels of being disciplined, more bullying by service users and under- representation at senior management and board levels.
The CSP’s own figures show that BME members are under-represented in areas such as stewards and safety reps, and participation in the Physio Works programme. Complex problems don’t have easy solutions but it’s time that all of us stopped being defensive and started having frank, honest conversations about how we can tackle it – together.
All CSP members should ensure their profile data, including ethnicity and other protected characteristics, is correct and up to date. Members with BME backgrounds should consider joining the BME network which works closely with the CSP Physio Works programme and other CSP officers to raise the BME voice across physiotherapy and the society.
We need to talk openly about how we can address this in the workplace. Local projects might include mentoring programmes, setting up BME networks, training on unconscious bias and reviewing recruitment policies. Another strand might be to have independent overview of disciplinary decisions. Workplaces will need different solutions depending on their data. Speak to your manager or your steward today and get the conversation started!
- Rekha Soni is a member of the CSP BME network
To see CSP resources on the WRES, visit our Equalies and Diversity page here.
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