Overt and systematic racism was routine
Staff at Amnesty International UK (AIUK) have called on its leadership team to resign after a report found instances of overt racism at the organisation.
An internal review at Amnesty uncovered multiple incidents of racism with staff saying the N word and P word had been used by senior staff.
Consultancy Howlett Brown was given access to staff surveys and carried out six focus groups of 51 staff each, including two exclusively attended by black staff.
The 46-page report was published on the Amnesty International website last October, but not released to the press.
Eight current and former employees of AIUK described their own experiences of racial discrimination and issued a statement calling on senior figures to stand down.
One of the whistleblowers, Katherine Odukoya, said: “We joined Amnesty hoping to campaign against human rights abuses but were instead let down through realising that the organisation actually helped perpetuate them.”
The report also found systematic bias including the capability of black staff being questioned consistently and without justification, and minority ethnic staff feeling disempowered and sidelined on projects.
Kieran Aldred, who worked for AIUK as an advocacy officer for three years until 2018 claimed that minority ethnic staff were overlooked for promotions, with pay reviews consistently favouring high-earning white senior leaders. He said the leadership had exonerated themselves of wrongdoing.
“Working for AIUK destroyed my self-confidence, my belief in my capabilities. I didn’t think I was skilled enough to do my job, that any organisation would ever hire me, let alone promote me, and I suffered from ongoing depression and anxiety,” said Aldred.
Kate Allen, the director of AIUK, said allegations of discrimination would be taken seriously and investigated. “We know that institutional racism exists in the UK and, like any other organisation, we aren’t immune to this very real problem,” she said.
“We recognise that we have not done enough to ensure that our organisation is a truly inclusive one where everyone receives the same level of respect and opportunity, is valued equally and is able to be heard.
“We are reckoning with the uncomfortable fact that we have not been good enough and from this, we understand that we must change to become better.”