The law is clear that racial discrimination should have no place in employment. Many companies have adopted policies and procedures to support this aspiration. But cause for concern persists.
The Runnymede Trust, a UK charity working to end racism, published their 2010 Impact Report and found that despite Chinese boys being among the highest performing groups at school, after university they can expect to earn 25% less than white graduates. They also found that if you have an African or Asian sounding surname, you need to send about twice as many applications as those with a traditionally English sounding name even to get an interview.
It is important that jobseekers’ ambitions are not limited by the knowledge that some employers discriminate either overtly or unconsciously. You may find these approaches helpful:
An important part of any graduate job search is locating the most suitable employers to apply to. Various factors will influence your choices, but it could be worth looking out for graduate recruiters who state their commitment to diversity.
Look at the images as well as the words on recruiters’ websites. At careers fairs and recruitment events you can question company representatives on their attitude to diversity. You can also look for companies that are signed up to Race for Opportunity or other schemes that support diversity in the workforce, such as the The Windsor Fellowship. The public sector generally has a good record for supporting equality and diversity.
Ask your careers service if they know of opportunities for mentoring, visits and work experience.
Ask your careers service if they know of opportunities for mentoring, visits and work experience. Some employers have positive action programmes to encourage applications from students from minority backgrounds.
Whatever background you come from it is essential to invest time and effort into your future career from early on at university. Get involved in a range of activities; this will help potential employers to see you as someone who can fit in with their staff from a range of backgrounds.
To demonstrate that you match the full requirements of employers you will need to refer to extra-curricular activities as well as your studies. If you have a taken part in community, religious and voluntary activities related to your ethnicity, these may provide the necessary examples of what you are able to achieve while collaborating with other people. There can be a temptation to play down such involvement, but this could weaken your application.
It is always worth visiting your university careers service to discuss what to include in your job applications, or any other issues concerning your search for employment.
Many students and graduates struggle to obtain their first career role after university. The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) biannual survey revealed that there have been 83 applications for each vacancy, an increase on 69 in 2010 and 49 in 2009. As this research shows, racial discrimination may be to blame if your application forms get nowhere, but other factors may also be involved. Your university careers service will be able to advise you whether your job applications are up to standard.
Whatever background you come from it is essential to invest time and effort into your future career from early on at university.
Although racial discrimination occurs in recruitment, viable legal action against unfairness is most likely to arise from events when someone is already employed. Allegations of racial discrimination can be raised through the Employment Tribunals Service.
Using the legal machinery is a last resort. If you are considering making a claim, it is important to get advice (e.g. from Citizens Advice, your trade union or local law centre) and to be careful to follow the correct procedures. You must exhaust your employer’s grievance procedure before you take your case further.
Keep records of incidents of discrimination that you suffer in the workplace - evidence will be needed if you decide to raise the matter.
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