Public perception of systemic racism in the UK inconsistent with race report findings
LONDON 22 April 2021 – reboot.
New research has found that a significant proportion of the UK population believes that systemic racism remains an issue within the country, despite the recent report published by the UK Government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) saying otherwise.
To help understand the sentiment post the publishing of the CRED report, Opinium on behalf of reboot., a voluntary initiative aimed at elevating the conversation around race in the workplace and society, finds that almost half (43%) of UK adults think systemic racism is common across the UK.1 At the same time, only a quarter (27%) of respondents believe that systemic racism is ‘uncommon’, in contrast with the Government review which found “no evidence of systemic or institutional racism”.2
The survey, which polled over 2,000 adults in a representative sample of the UK population, asked respondents whether they agreed with the Commission’s findings that “Britain no longer has a system that deliberately rigs against ethnic minorities.” Interestingly, the response was polarised, with more than a third of UK adults (37%) agreeing that the UK no longer has a systemic problem, while a similar number (31%) disagreed.
Race report a setback in tackling racism issues
There is also concern that the report could provide a setback in terms of achieving greater equality. One in five (20%) adults think the Commission’s report will have a negative impact when it comes to progressing race issues in the UK, while just 18% believe the report will have a positive impact on society.
Suki Sandhu OBE, Founder & CEO of INvolve comments: “Rather than a call-to-action, the report acted as a stop-to-action, at a time when social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter clearly show that inequality and racism is still embedded across society. We therefore cannot become complacent by pretending change is not needed.”
Employers have a role to place in tackling systemic racism
The UK public agrees that workplaces have a crucial role to play in raising awareness about racism. In terms of the measures employers can introduce or uphold to raise awareness about racism, actively promoting a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination was identified as the most critical measure employers can introduce, closely followed by clear policies for reporting discrimination in the workplace.
Most important things workplaces can do to raise awareness about racism
|Action for employers||Number of respondents agreeing|
|Actively promote zero-tolerance on any form of discrimination||50%|
|Have clear policies on reporting discrimination experienced in the workplace||44%|
|Training on racial discrimination and unconscious bias||32%|
|Review internal structures and policies on diversity and inclusion||25%|
|Encourage conversations about racism||21%|
Noreen Biddle Shah, founder of reboot. comments “reboot. speaks to professional ethnic minorities on a daily basis to understand their career journeys and the types of obstacles they face, with the overwhelming majority stating they have endured some form of discrimination throughout their careers. There is a very real reason why ethnic minorities make up 14% of the working age population yet only 6% will make it to the most senior of roles.”
Robert Walker, Head of Asset Stewardship at State Street Global Advisers and reboot. Ambassador also comments: “A significant finding of the survey is the crucial role of employers in elevating the conversation and awareness around race in the workplace and wider society. All individuals, regardless of background, need to work together to promote zero tolerance on discrimination. Clear policies and training are paramount in achieving this.”