Audit, Awaken and Act on racial injustice says Coqual

Think tank creates framework to stamp out Black injustices in the UK workplace

Black professionals in the UK continue to experience racism, microaggressions, and unfair treatment in the UK, confirms a new report by global think tank Coqual.

To help combat the findings of its Being Black in the Unlighted Kingdom report highlighting the racial prejudice Black professionals experience at work, Coqual has developed a framework for action: Audit, Awaken, Act.

It provides steps companies can take to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and build accountability throughout their ranks to build more inclusive workplaces. The full report also gives company examples, pointers, and pitfalls to avoid in each stage of the framework.

Audit – First, assess the current state. Company leaders need to understand the current state of the Black professional experience and what inequities exist in the way Black professionals are treated, hired, evaluated, promoted, and compensated.

Awaken – Bring those insights to the rest of the organisation through thoughtfully designed conversations and resources for the benefit of all employees. Leaders and employees alike need to have open discussions and educate themselves about the barriers Black professionals face.

Act – With the knowledge and understanding developed in the Audit and Awaken phases, companies must build solutions that specifically target dismantling barriers for Black employees and establish accountability at all levels.

The framework is based on insights gleaned from over a thousand college-educated UK professionals who participated in in-depth conversations, focus groups, and interviews as part of the research.

The survey, conducted by ORB International under the auspices of Coqual, reached more than 120 experts and Black professionals based in or with expertise on race in the UK.

On being Black in the United Kingdom, this is what Black professionals are saying…

“All the decision-makers are White. I just wish that everyone could look around and own what’s happening instead of being performative.” – Black woman professional

“The office is full of microaggressions. You show me a Black person that hasn’t experienced a microaggression in the workplace, and I’ll show you a Black person that just doesn’t know what a microaggression is.”– Black queer woman

 “What have I changed? So much over my career, I don’t even know how to sum it up in a sentence.” –Black female executive

“When I look at the Black representation past junior manager level, it’s nonexistent. It’s absolutely nonexistent.” –Black African professional

“Before George Floyd, racism in the UK was very, very covert. Even just trying to assert that something racist happened was very dicey. Post-George Floyd, I feel the awareness [of] racism is a lot more socialised…Now, you feel more confident to say, ‘Actually, that was racist.’  –Black Gen X woman

“[DEI was a hot topic after what happened with George Floyd. Very senior people wanted to be involved. I’ve noticed that those people have ebbed away. Once again, [Black issues] moving into box-ticking territory. We need to call it out: We can see that’s what’s going on. You need to be true to the mission that you said you’re on and stay with it.” –Black Millennial woman

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