It has been over 10 years since the equality and diversity act of 2010 was introduced and we have not seen a great deal of improvement as was anticipated. There have been some improvements but even though a lot of organisations are happy with the improvement that has been made, progress has been very slow. For a lot of organisation equality and diversity is at the back of their priorities, it is something that is looked at now and again but not in great details. Government institutions are required to have mandatory training of which equality and diversity is one. Whilst this is good idea the emphasis of equality and diversity has been lost because managers are only concerned with the staff being up to date with their mandatory training and not whether they have learnt from the training. The words equality and diversity have become synonymous with mandatory training and not how you treat other people. You have managers and staff who have undertaken equality and diversity training for over 10 years but their behaviour has not improved. If you like me have undertaken the equality and diversity training you will know that the level at wish the training is provided is not of equal proportion with the suffering that people who are discriminated against go through. The heart breaking truth that one minute a manger will be undertaken an equality and diversity e-learning course and the next they will be discriminating against someone because of their disability or skin colour. Why are people’s attitude changing slowly? Are they supposed to change slowly? Should we accept that change is slow and just go with the flow? In 2010 I started dating a white girl but her dad grew up in the fifties this was very hard for him to deal with him. However after I met a month later we became very close and this only happened because he was willing to go against the old culture and today I can tell you that he is the best father in-law I could have asked for.
There is an important word that has to be looked at here and that is CULTURE! A lot of organisations are set up for BAME employees and employees with disability to fail. I know as you read these words you are thinking that cannot be the case but I can tell you that whenever I am looking for a job I am asking where can I succeed despite my skin colour and my disability. As I am writing these words a blind friend tells me that when I apply for a jobs I do not says that I am blind until I have been offered an interview because every time I mention my blindness I do not get an interview. If we want to really create true diversity in the work place we have to change the culture of the organisation. SIR WILLIAM MACPHERSON in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report described the police has being institutionally racists and you can describe a lot of government organisation as such. A lot of time I hear people say we need new people and new managers but some time those manager usually come in and they fit into the culture they find. It does not matter how many times you preach about equality and diversity if the culture of the organisation is an equal. You cannot plant poison and expect to get corn instead, if you want corn you must plabt corn, if you want to create equality and diversity you must create equality and diversity in your organisation. An organisation that has culture of creating equality will tolerate any forms of equality but in today’s world we still have managers and employees who tolerate inequality. A friend of mine once told me that she once reported racial bullying but when she reported to her manager they found every excuse under the sun to protect the employee involved. If you are from the BAME background and if you are disabled and if you report racial bullying managers will focus on your disability, new equipment will bought even though they are not needed to ensure that the racial discrimination issues is not brought up. This in the end tells the employees involved that there are no real consequences for their action. When this happen people stop reporting racial bullying and they leave the organisation in the end and the matter is completely forgotten about. This is like watering and fertilising discrimination in organisation, even a though a lot of organisation have been talking about equality and diversity, inequality is being natured everyday. As a lot of my back friends tell me “You will just have to be strong” racism and disability discrimination is everywhere and a lot of organisations are encouraging it even if they think they are not.
Change can be quick and this how you can change the culture
I have spoken to a lot of people about this subject and the majority tell me that change is coming even though it is slow. From where I am sitting change is coming way too slowly because organisations are not changing their culture. A couple years ago I was having discussion with a former HR manager at Eastman UK were i had taken my HR internship in my final year of university. I talked about how quick change can happen and he invited me to work with his company for a week to see what changes can be made. I only had a couple days to come up with a week’s training sessions. I used this week to discuss what people think when someone black walks in the room compared to someone white. Two students had just started their internship one was white and the other was black and within a few days the white intern was been shown a lot more things. The black intern had Nigerian names and the people he was working with were saying things like “not another African”. This was a great opportunity to discuss why they thought someone from Africa was never going to make a good engineer, their response was that we have had a few of them and they have not done well, I then pushed and made them to ponder how their attitude might affected the performance of the other interns. I then asked them to treat the black intern as they were treating the white intern. I asked the manager to let me know in a month how the intern was doing, the report was he was the best intern they have ever had. I then went back a few months later and in our discussion with all the staff they acknowledged there was a cultural problem when it comes to the way they treated people with different skin colour. I remember all the staff admitting that the culture was defiantly racist. We then spoke about how many students career might have been ruined because of their behaviour. They understood how their behaviour affected other people and there was a collective agreement that the culture needed to change. In 2019 I visited Eastman and the change in culture was so amazing, the way they treated every member of staff had completely changed, it became one of the most disability friendly organisation, the organisation had recruited more people from the BAME group. Eastman has 3.500 staff across the UK and they were able to create equality and diversity because they changed the culture of the organisation. If you are a senior manager and you really passionate about create equality and diversity you must remember that in order to create equality and diversity you must change the culture of the organisation and this does not have to take years.