Race Discrimination in the Workplace

Reading Time: 3 minutes


By Katy Cottrell, Sona Circle

Why NOW is the time to act

Last week George Floyd became another victim of police brutality towards unarmed black people, when he was killed at the scene of his arrest for an alleged forged cheque. This violent and tragic event has understandably caused widespread heartbreak and anger, and sparked protests in certain US states, but it has also created a conversation about race inequalities and what all of us can do to combat racism.

Discourse around George Floyd’s death has highlighted that modern-day racism is not just isolated to police brutality and overt violent forms of abuse. In fact, subtle, more ‘socially accepted’ forms of racism (such as claiming to be ‘colourblind’ and refusing to directly address issues of race) create a culture in which people of colour are more likely to become victims of race-based violence. It is also important to note that this is not just an American problem.

The British Actor Daniel Kaluuya explains:

‘Racism’s not [always] seen in England, but it’s felt. And it’s oppressive’.

Thus, recent events have made clear that we do not live in an equal society. The everyday experiences of people of colour and white people are very different, which is defined by the term White Privilege. This term does not try to suggest that white people will not have struggles in their life, rather that the struggles they do face will not be because of their race.

Examples of white privilege include:

  • Believing that police and state authorities are there to protect you.
  • Seeing yourself represented by people who look like you in TV, film and other forms of media.
  • Knowing that your race and ethnicity will not affect how likely you are to be chosen for a job.

This final point is particularly relevant to our focus at Sona Circle Recruitment, which is connecting socially conscious employers in the UK, with the dependable refugee workforce.

Research has shown that racial discrimination is rife throughout UK workplaces, with people of colour being hired less often despite being well qualified. For example, prior to Covid-19 a study by The Resolution Foundation found that ethnic minorities with graduate degrees were 12% less likely to be employed than white graduates.

This demonstrates the systematic racism in play through many businesses reluctance to employ people of colour.

Unfortunately, work-place discrimination is likely to further affect refugees. Not only do refugees often face racial stereotyping but also stigmas associated with the refugee status. For example, the unemployment rate for refugee populations is as high as 18% (three times as high as the British population). When refugees are able to find employment, many are working in positions that they are overqualified for, because their qualifications and experience overseas are not recognised by UK employers.

The death of George Floyd has opened up conversations about racial bias, inequalities and white privilege that are pervasive in our culture.

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we are aiming to bring awareness to the ways in which refugees are affected by this bias, by shedding light on refugee experiences and often unrecognised contributions that they make to our society. We strive to promote workplace equality by creating job opportunities for refugees and helping those in need to access social support.

If you are a socially conscious employer and you’re interested in hiring the dependable refugee workforce, you can email us at info@sonacircle.com, alternatively, you can contribute by making a donation (no matter how big or small) to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Fund where 100% of donations go directly to supporting refugee employment in the UK, via our Just Giving page.



Share this story