October was Black History Month – a month that celebrates black history, culture and achievement. And while celebrating black history and culture, it is important to acknowledge that racism and discrimination are part of the global black and ethnic minority experience, and Ireland is no different.
Dr. Ebun Joseph, the Director in the Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies and an expert on anti-racism work, joined the staff of the Publicjobs.ie to discuss a recent survey she conducted called "21 Actions to Tackle Racism in the Workplace". This survey was on the experiences of people who may have experienced racism or witnessed racist incidents and/or discrimination in the workplace.
According to the Irish Network Against Racism, a human rights organisation that records racist incidents, in 2021 there were 404 reports received from the public about racism – including criminal offences, hate speech and discrimination – including discrimination in access to public services and state support.
One in two African professionals who responded to a recent survey by the African Professionals Network in Ireland stated they thought their ethnicity was a barrier to accessing employment opportunities and to progressing in the workplace.
Several key themes emerged from Dr Joseph's research including: the importance of education and training to inform and address issues like microaggression, bias and discrimination in the workplace; how diversity & inclusion can be supported by senior leadership, ED&I champions, monitoring and reporting, and the creation of equal opportunity pathways for progress for all. And finally, the critical role HR teams play to ensure robust and progressive HR policy and processes (including complaints and disciplinary processes) are in place to support all staff.
Irish Government Action
Last month, the Minister for Justice published the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 (external link), after securing Cabinet approval for the new legislation. This new legislation to combat hate crime and hate speech is expected to become law before the end of the year.
The Irish government is currently finalising a National Anti-Racism Plan, led by the Department of Equality and Children. The Public Appointments Service submitted a response to the consultation on that Plan last summer, highlighting some of the work we are doing to deliver on our commitment in our ED&I strategy to promote diversity and develop more inclusive and equitable processes, both as an employer and recruiter.
We will, along with all other government departments and public sector organisations, have actions in this National Plan to ensure we collectively, as a sector, tackle racism and discrimination in the workplace, in all its forms. These actions sit alongside those we are already working on in the government's Migrant Integration Strategy (2017-21). This activity aligns directly with our core values of inclusion, leadership and innovation and it will support the commitments we have in our NUA and ED&I strategies around creating inclusive processes and workplaces, where all employees irrespective of their background can thrive.
Only two other EU countries have a similar national plan, Germany and the Netherlands, so the Irish government is being proactive about addressing this important issue.
For more information:
- Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies (external link to www.iabs.ie)
- Towards a National Action Plan Against Racism (external link) for Ireland Public Consultation 2021
- Reports of Racism in Ireland (external link), INAR, 2021
- Half of black professionals say ethnicity is a barrier to their career — survey (external link), Irish Times, 16 October 2022