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ted Learning Blog

"Surely that doesn't happen in our business... I don't believe people are THAT racist anymore...."

  • September 6, 2016
It is political correctness gone mad - you can't say anything anymore!
Just some of the things that I often hear, when we deliver Equality & Diversity Training courses to our clients. Delegates observe our actors performing (amongst others) a scene around Race and Religion & Beliefs (which are always based on real case studies and behaviours taking place in the business we are working in) and at the end when we download the content and explore the impact it's had, people look on in disbelief.
  • Are the actors over the top in what they have said?
  • Is it just theatre?
  • Do people in the workplace REALLY say some of the things we portray?

Sadly, the answers are always in order

  • NO
  • NO
  • YES.

I simply will never understand why people feel that because they can express an opinion, that they should - perhaps this is one of the fundamental flaws in social media. Or am I doing this now?!

I have been driven to write this short piece by the London Evening Standard picking up the story of Great British Bake off contestant Rav Bansal receiving racist abuse on Twitter, purely because of his race and/or religion... It is beyond shocking that people have taken valuable time to express abuse towards someone taking part in a cake making show (which I happen to love!). Why should he, and clearly other contestants from past series, be subjected to abuse because of their heritage? And how are those on the receiving end of this abuse supposed to just close their ears to it? I LOVE the fact that a female muslim won before - but actually not because of her sex, or religion but because she came across genuine, made great baking and DESERVED to win!

I often hear people say "all this equality stuff, shouldn't it just be the best person who gets the job?" Ideally - yes. Doesn't the same apply in a baking competition? Is sex, religion, age, faith, gender identity, sexual orientation etc REALLY important? Shouldn't it just be about who baked the best cakes & biscuits. To get angry because of someones success based on their skin colour is a deep rooted problem that can all challenge more in the workplace when we see undercurrents of this behaviour.

I realised within the last few months, an ex-student of mine (who happens to be black) posted on social media that as she walked with her family, a car of people stopped and told them to "go back to where they came from" - totally ignorant, as they happened to LIVE right there and were from there - however this has driven my ex-student to tell us all on social media - Goodbye racist England.

A member of our acting team, who also happens to be black, happened to be a different race to an individual she sadly came across and was told "We voted out, so go home!" She is from Britain and an exceptionally talented actor - how is this linked to Brexit and the vote to the Leave the EU?

Delivering Equality & Diversity training to all employees and getting them to understand the uncomfortable feeling of being on the receiving end of some of these behaviours, really has impact. Just last week, one delegate said to me "Thanks, because I have seen how awful it feels to hear some of the things your actors have said today, and I could see myself in it, I now realise I need to change" If everyone had one of those reflection moments, wouldn't this be the start of a great journey together?

Justin Smith-Essex

About the Author:
Justin Smith-Essex

Justin is the Group Managing Director & one of the co-founders of Ted Learning. He is a very experienced trainer, facilitator and qualified teacher, having completed his PGCE Teaching Degree at the University of Greenwich. He specialises in designing and delivering training in customer service, equality and diversity, management fundamentals, team building & presentation skills.