“Can I Say That?”
How Comfortable Are We Talking About Race In The Workplace?.
To mark the release of the EMpower Ethnic Minority Role Model Lists 2021, INvolve in conjunction with Censuswide conducted research to assess how comfortable individuals in positions of power are in choosing appropriate language for everyday interactions, as well as having conversations specifically on the topic of race and racism in the workplace.
When the upsurge in the Black Lives Matter movement received global attention in May 2020 it was clear that not only had businesses not done enough about racial inequality, but many struggled even to start the conversation. A fear of causing offence, using the wrong language, and being uncomfortable were often cited as barriers which needed to be breached if action was going to be taken by those in the positions within organisations to make change happen. Almost one year on, and with systemic racism remaining a critical issue for business to address, we set out to discover if the conversations about race in the workplace that so badly needed to happen are happening, and whether language and the fear of uncomfortable conversations remain a substantial barrier to progress.
This report contains the key findings from this research and draws some conclusions on how the conversation on race is developing and the challenges that still need to be overcome for further progress to be made. Using the findings as a basis, it also includes some recommendations for businesses looking to move the conversation forward within their own organisations so they can enact effective action to address racial inequality.