The Chartered Managers Institute (CMI) have urged employees at all companies to recognise their ‘privilege’ in order to help champion the creation of equal, diverse and inclusive organisations. 

The CMI have emphasised the need for organisations to create a more supportive environment at work for employees who encounter racism.

Their research stresses the importance of leaders educating themselves on the “complexities of racism” and the need to “prioritise anti-racist policies and behaviours”.

In order to do so, the CMI urge leaders to do the following:

  • Educating oneself and others on racism and privilege
  • Creating safe spaces for employees that encounter racism to talk about their experiences
  • Leading with empathy
  • Prioritising anti-racism at work
  • Encouraging employees to be themselves and bring their ‘whole selves’ into work

The report outlines how recognising privilege is important as privilege can “be used positively to help dismantle the walls that people from diverse ethnic groups can come up against in workplace and society”.

It also specifically offers advice to managers on how they can discuss race at work. It states that they should support people who face racism which could involve scheduling conversations in with employees who face racism in order to better understand their experiences. The report also states that learning to talk about race is a vital part of moving forward which means managers should not generalise and should be specific and accurate, avoiding acronyms.

CMI also states that microaggressions, a term used to describe acts that display discrimination in an less direct way – whether actively meaning to discriminate or not-, must be ended at work. They urge organisations to build support networks and raise awareness of race issues. The body also states that HR and managers should upskill in their Diversity and Inclusion training.

Zaheer Ahmad, Head of Strategic Delivery, Diversity and Inclusiveness at EY UK&I and CMI Race advisory committee member, said:

The first and key point is raising awareness of the challenge that our workplaces and our society face on racism. So raising awareness is at the heart of any organisation aspiring or aiming to create that anti-racist culture.

Some people don’t believe that racism exists in their organisation. They believe that because of their code of conduct, because of their policies, because of their values, they are almost immune from being a racist organisation.

Part of raising awareness is to challenge the perception that because recent events have taken place in the US, that it is a US issue and not a UK issue at all. Or if it is a UK issue, it’s not on the scale as the Black community claims it to be – so it’s a small matter not linked to their organisation.

Once we raise awareness, we can shine a light on systematic racism and bring it to life, to the individuals who have the power, the influence to change the systems.

To put it very simply, if we have more diverse leaders, the behaviours change, the culture changes.


*This research and guidance has been taken from the Chartered Managers Institute (CMI) report called ‘Moving the Dial on Race: A Practical Guide on Workplace Inclusion”, published in October 2020.