We have seen the term ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ more frequently in the Scottish policy landscape than in previous years. The tragic and unfortunate murder of George Floyd, which sparked a global BLM movement has shone a torch to the systemic inequalities faced by people of colour in the 21st Century. This evidence from COVID-19 statistics cemented what minority ethnics have complained about for so long – there is institutional and systemic racism in Scotland.  

An increasing issue stemming from racial inequity is the impact on mental health. Actions such as microaggressions, self-flagellation, discrimination, stereotyping and ignorance is caused mainly by privilege. This results in outputs relating (but not limited) to trauma, paranoia, anxiety and high levels of self-awareness. The consistency of these daily challenges equates to “death by a thousand cuts”. So, what is the value in providing a safe space in a place of work?  

Providing psychological safety is where someone believes they won’t be shamed or humiliated for bringing concerns, questions, ideas or mistakes. 

Empowering to share perspectives 

Providing a space for colleagues to share their thoughts and experiences will increase their confidence, cultivate ideas and encourage innovation by helping each other look at the big picture. 

Building strong feedback culture 

Giving and receiving progressive feedback, within teams and as individuals, to the overall organisation as a collective voice is a powerful tool for engagement and employee feedback. It also helps to build trust that leaders are listening and credibility to the employee/colleagues’ views. 

Create allies who can interrupt harm 

People and privileged positions have the means to intervene in a harmful situation, but they don’t. No one likes confrontation. However, we need leaders to take an active role in holding individuals to account for their harmful behaviour. This creates trust, loyalty and leadership, and shifting attitudes towards an anti racist culture. 

Remove the pressure to assimilate 

There are certain cliches in the workplace – habits – that have trickled down from the status quo. This persona becomes exhausting to maintain. 

How an individual chooses to perform or create an impression of themselves is entirely their choice. But it should be noted that the daily ‘trying to fit in with colleagues’ life does become exhausting. This is energy, stress and valuable headspace being used up. It is good to have a space to let your guard down and be your true authentic self. 

Everyone has the right to live with dignity and respect, in an environment where they feel safe and included.  

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice and belonging is having that voice heard” – Liz Fosslien 

Farah Farzana
Farah FarzanaRace Equality Officer

April 1st, 2022