Racism at Work: How Organisations Can Stand Up to and End Workplace Racism

Racism at Work: How Organisations Can Stand Up to and End Workplace Racism

This project is a response to the heightened global conversation about ‘race’ and racism that unfolded in 2020, and the resultant calls for organisations to do better when it comes to confronting and addressing racism.

In this time of racial reckoning, Australian organisations have found themselves wanting and needing to address workplace racism but struggling to do so due to a lack of guidance that spoke to an Australian context.

Accordingly, DCA partnered with sponsors, ARUP, Diageo, IKEA Australia, QBE, and Relationships Australia NSW, to create evidence-based guidelines for Australian organisations to effectively address racism at work, and in doing so, support racial diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The resulting report, Racism at Work, is an evidence-based organisational framework for anti-racism action to help Australian businesses effectively address racism.

Racism at Work was informed by people who experience racism, guidance from an expert panel, and a survey of 1,547 Australian workers across various sectors.

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Foundational Principles for Understanding Racism

Foundational principles for understanding racism: Recognise first nations peoples' unique position; centre lived experience, realise we racially label each other, recognise our default worldview is white, focus on racial not cultural diversity.

Understanding Racism

To address racism, we need first to understand what it is. But understanding racism can be challenging, particularly for people who do not experience racism, but also because:

  • how racism is expressed and experienced changes over time and from place to place
  • some forms of racism are hard to ‘see’ as they are the ‘normal’ way things are done.

DCA’S DEFINITION OF RACISM

Racism is when an individual or organisation with race-based societal power discriminates, excludes or disadvantages a racially-based person because of their race, colour, descent, nationality, ethnicity, religion or immigrant status. Racism can be conscious or unconscious, active or passive, obvious or subtle.

Specifically, there is interpersonal racism, which is individuals’ beliefs, attitudes and actions that discriminate, exclude or disadvantage people from racially marginalised groups.

There is also systemic racism, which is organisations’ policies, procedures and practices that directly or indirectly discriminate, exclude or disadvantage people from racially marginalised groups.

© Diversity Council Australia, 2022.

Understanding Anti-Racism

Eradicating racism requires more than just passively claiming to be non-racist – it requires anti-racism. This means actively standing up to and challenging racism.

Anti-racism should be at the forefront of organisations’ efforts to achieve racial inclusion and equity.

 

An Organisational Framework for Anti-Racism Action

Based on insights gained from this evidence base, we crafted an organisational framework for action which explains what is happening to ‘lock in’ racism in Australian workplaces, and what organisations can do to unlock and help end racism at work. Importantly, these organisational locks and keys recognise that racism in Australia plays out not just at the interpersonal level (between people) but also on the systemic level (in taken-for-granted organisational policies, practices, and systems).

Racism at Work locks and keys: What are the organisation locks (barriers) that keep racism in place in Australian workplace? What are the organisational keys (actions) that can help end racism in Australian workplaces?

Find out more

DCA members can access the Full Report, Racism at Work: How Organisations Can Stand Up To and End Workplace Racism, and the Synopsis Report, by logging into the Members Only area of the DCA website. These include detailed information on:

  • definitions of race, racism, and anti-racism
  • the case for addressing workplace racism in Australia
  • foundational principles for understanding racism
  • six organisational keys that can help eradicate racism in Australian workplaces
  • research method and all research references.

The rest of this content is restricted to DCA members.