Workplace prejudice rife, study claims

Ethnic minority groups are being frozen out of top jobs in workplaces around Scotland, new research has revealed, prompting campaigners to warn that firms are blighted by “prejudice and bias”.

Many workers from ethnic minorities are “segregated and isolated” in the workplace, raising fresh concerns that equality strategies are having no impact on the ground.

The SNP Government is now being accused of “downgrading” race equality initiatives in recent years, with opposition MSPs claiming schemes aimed at addressing the problem have been abolished and not replaced.

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A study carried out by researchers at Heriot-Watt University, on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was presented to a conference organised by the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (Scotland) in Glasgow 

“Some of the key themes that came through were that racism still existed in the workplace,” said CEMVO director Colin Lee.

“There was still conscious and unconscious bias in managerial structures about equality, so there was still bias towards the indigenous white population in terms of promotion, support and senior management roles.”

Dr Gina Netto of Heriot-Watt’s school of the built environment said the research, which was carried out across Scotland and England found the links between equality and anti-poverty policies needs to be much more “consistent and explicit.”

Dr Netto added a lack of support in the workplace can lead to “low pay traps” and a waste of potential.

Although many firms may have the right equality policies in place, there are concerns they are not being implemented in practice.

Mr Lee added: “There’s still very much a sub-culture that exists of favouritism and bias and prejudice in terms of organisations, where you’re talking about institutional racism.”

Labour MSP Hanzala Malik, who also addressed the conference, said ethnic minorities in his Glasgow constituency are stuck in low-paid work and there is “very little support to get them out of poverty.”

He added: “The SNP Government has downgraded Race Equality systematically over the years. First getting rid of the Labour Party’s Race Equality Scheme and replacing it with a basic Race Equality Statement.

“Since 2011 we have had nothing at all. It is one thing to say that the SNP want a an inclusive Scotland based on shared civic values and not ethnic origin, but the Government also needs to do something about making Scotland more inclusive.”

“The Equality Act 2010 makes it clear that positive action can be used to redress historic discrimination.”