This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

New employer guidance on taking an anti-racist approach to tackling gender inequality in the workplace

This opinion piece is over 1 year old

Sponsored content: expert guidance from Close The Gap

Racism and sexism are the causes of the inequality and discrimination that racially minoritised women face in their everyday lives. It’s no different in the workplace.

Gender and racial inequality at work are issues for all employers, irrespective of the diversity of their workforce. Racially minoritised women face prejudice and discrimination in the labour market every day. It’s time to act.

It’s not enough to think about gender inequality or racial inequality on their own – you need to understand how these intersect to create double discrimination for racially minoritised women.

By tackling racism and gender inequality together, you’ll also be contributing towards greater equality for racially minoritised people and women more widely in your workplace. Taking an intersectional approach is necessary to advance equality for all groups that face discrimination.

Our new guidance

Close the Gap has developed new guidance for employers on taking an anti-racist approach to tackling women’s workplace inequality. It contains information on:

  • the intersection of racism and sexism in the workplace
  • the barriers faced by racially minoritised women
  • how to take an anti-racist approach to tackling gender inequality in your organisation

There’s also a suite of quick-read resources to enable you to:

Many employers want to take action but may not be sure where to start. Our guidance can help.

We held an online webinar to launch the guidance, where we heard from experts on gender sensitive anti-racist practice and taking an intersectional approach. The keynote address was delivered by the Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work. You can watch the webinar here.

What employers need to know about racism and sexism at work

Racially minoritised women still face deeply rooted prejudices, racism and sexism in their lives, which contributes to their inequality at work. While racism and sexism each exist on their own, they also change where they occur in combination. This produces specific inequalities for racially minoritised women, known as intersectional inequalities.

This combination of racist and sexist attitudes and behaviours, and in-built bias in employment policies and processes, creates intersectional inequalities for women in the workplace. It isn’t just about isolated incidents of bullying and harassment between individuals, but a part of a wider problem with workplace culture, and intersectional inequality in the workplace.

A majority of racially minoritised women have experienced a combination of racism and sexism at work. Just because you haven’t received a report of racist and/or sexist behaviour or discrimination doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened in your workplace. Racism and sexism are embedded in workplace reporting systems, creating barriers to reporting. Most women won’t report incidents because they don’t think their employer will take the matter seriously, or they fear a backlash for doing so.

What employers can do

One of the first things you need to do is acknowledge that racism, sexism and intersectional inequality are issues for all employers – regardless of whether you’ve had a report, or how diverse your workforce is. A willingness to be objective and honest about the challenges you face is key.

You can show leadership by openly acknowledging that employers have a responsibility to challenge racism and sexism, and their interaction, at work and communicating to staff the actions you will take to do this.

You can build trust by seeking honest feedback and reflections from staff, and demonstrating that you are taking action.

You can also build trust by showing that you’re willing to be accountable. This means following through with meaningful actions and progress updates on your work to deliver equality for women in your organisation.

Because racially minoritised women face specific inequalities, you can’t just combine work to tackle racism & racial inequality with work to tackle sexism & gender inequality. You need to work to understand and address the specific challenges facing racially minoritised women if all racially minoritised people, and all women, are to obtain equality. Our guidance will help you do this.

It's important to recognise that action to tackle incidents of discrimination is only part of the solution. You can use our guidance to take a gender sensitive anti-racist approach to reviewing your workplace culture and employment practices.

This means proactively identifying and tackling gender inequality and racism, which involves taking an objective view of your organisation and being honest about the challenges you face. This is what gender sensitive anti-racist practice means.

Create change in your workplace and communities

Change doesn’t happen overnight. But with commitment and sustained effort you can create real change for women, and your organisation, and become a sector leader in equality, diversity and inclusion. You’ll be able to attract and retain the best talent, making your organisation more productive, more innovative and more profitable. You’ll also demonstrate to your workforce that you’re committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, building trust and loyalty in your customer or service user base.

Employers have the ability to take meaningful action and create change for women in your organisation and in the communities you operate in. You also have a responsibility to do so.

Download our guidance now and learn how you can build anti-racist leadership on gender equality.

Guidance for employers on taking an anti-racist approach to tackling women’s workplace inequality

Supporting resources:

Core actions for key people

Capacity building for key roles

Using data

Level the playing field

Key messages

Action plan checklist

Watch our webinar and hear from experts on gender sensitive anti-racist practice and taking an intersectional approach.