Speak up against racism - be part of the solution in your workplace

Most workplaces have very large diversity—as they should. At any site there are workers of different sex, race, age, religion, sexual orientation and more.

While workplaces pride themselves on being diverse, individuals’ varying perspectives on life can create trouble. Although a good portion of people don’t want to admit it, racism and discrimination still take place today.

One of the areas we see people struggling with racism a lot is in the workplace. This is unfortunate as it is where most of us spend the majority of our life. When someone faces racism in the workplace, it can really start to take a toll on their work, their health and their overall attitude.

There are many laws in place to combat this behaviour, but racism in the workplace has evolved and today it’s often hidden in the guise of jokes and unfair treatment, and the person dishing it out may not even really realise they’re making racist comments or making someone else uncomfortable or upset, which is why it’s so important to have good communication in the workplace.

‍If a co-worker or manager is making you feel uncomfortable, or hurts you with words they use, be sure to tell them right away because ignoring racism rarely makes it go away

You can be part of the solution because you have power to make positive change.

Don’t ever laugh at a racist joke, no matter how ‘lighthearted’, because people who make these kinds of jokes are looking for attention, and a laugh is an affirmation that their conduct’s acceptable. Instead, try to take the person aside and communicate that the comments are inappropriate.

If you’re experiencing racism, try to talk to the person making you uncomfortable, if you feel safe and comfortable doing so, before going to management. They may simply not be aware they’re causing you hurt. By addressing the issue with the person first, they can be under no illusion that you find their conduct welcome or acceptable.

If the conduct continues, you should seek to document every instance and report it to your manager. If talking to the perpetrator hasn’t worked and you feel management isn’t dealing with your complaint satisfactorily, contact HACSU for advice about lodging a formal grievance and for support through the process. You can also ask HACSU to speak with your employer about including anti-racism measures in enterprise bargaining, or to implement anti-racism policies and training in the workplace.

Racism is racism and there is no place for it in the workplace or anywhere else. Through union solidarity we can look out for each other to ensure none of us is exploited. If you feel you’re experiencing racism in your workplace, or you feel it’s being waged against someone else, contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email [email protected].

HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential.