Majority of BME academics report harassment from senior staff

A majority of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff at universities and colleges in the UK feel regularly subjected to bullying and harassment, according to a new study by the University and College Union (UCU).

On 4 February, the UCU published a report in anticipation of a national day of action against racism in the workplace which took place on 10 February. The report, titled ‘The Experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Working in Further and Higher Education’ takes into account responses from 631 BME UCU members.

A breakdown of the respondents elicits that 446 work in higher education and 185 work in further education, in general and specialist further education colleges, adult and community education, work-based learning and prison education.

The poll reveals that 71 per cent said they were ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ subject to bullying and harassment from managers and administrators in the work place.

Furthermore, 90.5 per cent working in higher-education said they had ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ faced barriers when seeking promotion, and 50 per cent of the respondents across both higher and further education did not agree they had been fully informed of the process of applying for promotions. 69 per cent reported they had been harassed by colleagues, while 86 per cent said they had experienced culturally insensitive comments. The results indicate that 59 per cent did not feel supported by senior staff at their places of employment.

The Equality and Diversity Monitoring and Research Committee at the University of Edinburgh released a report in 2015 which provides statistics on BME staff. The report includes statistics taken from 2009 to 10 to 2014-2015 on Academic and Research-only staff. During the academic year of 2009/2010, 20.9 per cent of non-UK academic staff at the University were from BME groups, compared to 4.7 per cent of UK staff. This increased in 2014/2015, with the statistics increasing to 25.3 per cent and 6.3 per cent.

A third-year student at The University of Edinburgh told The Student: “There are undertones of racism because this is a Caucasian dominated society, so most people here will come from a Caucasian upbringing.

“For example, Bedlam Theatre is really very white. It is not a racist thing, it is just run by a bunch of white people whose entire experience of theatre is from a Caucasian perspective. So what they create will subconsciously be very Caucasian and catered to Caucasian roles. There is a lack of diversity in societies that aren’t attached to a particular ethnicity, which mean there is less opportunity for other ethnic groups unless they attach themselves to a culture specific society”, the student said.

Image credit: cybrarian77

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