Setting anti-racist actions
Actions designed from an anti-racist perspective might be expected to:
- Reflect anti-racist principles
- Express the change to be achieved in the lives of people from minority ethnic communities
- Feature milestones, targets or similar specified goals
- Clearly link to progress indicators, ideally in numeric / percentage based terms, which can be robustly measured through data or ongoing research
Examples of this precise type of action are not prevalent in previous strategies. However, similar examples include:
- Both Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise's Operational Plans included actions on increasing business start-ups by minority ethnic people, with specific targets
- This is an anti-racist action because progress monitoring would show the extent to which business start-ups by minority ethnic people supported by these agencies had increased
- Registered Social Landlords were required to set targets for lets to minority ethnic communities over a specific time period
- This is an anti-racist action because progress monitoring would show the level of change in uptake of social housing for minority ethnic people
- Diversity targets were set for recruitment search consultants and advertisers
- This is an anti-racist action because progress monitoring would show the increase in the proportion of minority ethnic people reached by these (which could be considered in conjunction with applications monitoring to establish the practical impact of their action)
- Scottish Government has a long-standing diversity commitment to achieve a representative workforce by 2025
- This is an anti-racist action because progress monitoring would show the increase in minority ethnic representation within Scottish Government's workforce
As the above examples suggest, the defining feature of an anti-racist action should arguably be that it proactively and demonstrably reduces racial inequalities, discrimination or racism.
The defining feature of an action which is not anti-racist, then, is an action which is not proactive and cannot lead to demonstrable change in the lives of minority ethnic people.
The majority of previous actions fall into the latter category. Actions have tended to be too broadly worded, too bureaucratic or have an unclear purpose. For example, a previous action for a national agency was "Issue 'minority ethnic special' diversity newsletter." Without knowing what this was intended to achieve, or having any way to identify what it achieved, all that can be said in progress reporting is that the action was carried out.
If the purpose was to raise awareness of the organisation's commitment to diversity, then a more appropriate action would have been "Raise staff awareness of our commitment to diversity by 50%." This would require a benchmark in order to show change, for example from an annual staff survey which includes a question on perceptions of the organisation's commitment to diversity.
This example, however, only becomes a truly anti-racist action if the rise in awareness can be linked to a resulting improvement in the experience of minority ethnic staff and/or service users.