What Is Anti-Racism Training?

Aboriginal racism in the workplace is a considerable problem for countless organisations and businesses. Discrimination can impact business reputations, staff retention, and the experiences of individuals who may have been treated unfairly or found it impossible to progress to the extent of their abilities.

In a recent discussion about how to tackle racism in football, we learned that a professional sportsperson who had previously accepted a derogatory nickname had done so solely to ‘fit in’–demonstrating how prolonged exposure to racism can impact even the most personal decision-making. Anti-racism training addresses discrimination at every level, educating colleagues about the myriad ways and forms racism might appear and delivering tools and strategic approaches to ensure racism is called out and tackled.

Why Is Anti-Racism Training Essential for Businesses?

Addressing Aboriginal discrimination in the workplace requires businesses to engage and communicate with their staff. A simple policy statement or change in recruitment processes cannot have a significant enough influence to transform an environment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find unwelcoming, discriminatory, or toxic. 

It is the businesses’ responsibility to take preemptive action to ensure every member of staff of any heritage, ethnicity, or religious background is treated equally rather than relying on individual employees to respect and acknowledge the cultural differences between themselves and others. 

Anti-racism training covers a broad scope, ensuring employees and senior leadership teams understand how racism occurs and how they should respond, and gain a better grasp of how it feels to be the target of racist remarks, unfair treatment, or discrimination in the workplace. Beginning with education and knowledge sharing creates a platform for cultural inclusion, rather than attempting to manage complaints or reports of racism on an individual, segmented basis.

How Does Anti-Racism Training Benefit a Company or Organisation?

The key advantage of anti-racism training is that it adds value and informs colleagues before any racist event has occurred. It can protect your business from an incident occurring between staff or with the public. It is appropriate at any stage, whether for a corporation looking to reform its approach to inclusivity or for businesses that have yet to introduce cultural awareness training.

Anti-racism training can include the following:

  • Overt versus unconscious bias, and the differences between racism and discrimination–and how, in some cases, ingrained biases mean Indigenous employees might be assumed to have lower skills or comprehension than other staff
  • The obligations of the business to comply with regulations and Australian legislation, including the Racial Discrimination Act
  • Actionable tips on creating a culturally safe and well-informed work environment where new recruits and existing staff feel valued, seen, and respected
  • How bystanders can respond to instances of suspected racism and when stepping in or taking action is fundamental–regardless of the position or authority of the perpetrator

Businesses that invest time into anti-racism training don’t only upskill their workforces to be more sensitive and respectful of different cultures and beliefs–they also find that these tools are incredibly valuable when communicating with clients or customers. 

Organisations with excellent cultural awareness throughout their hierarchies are in an excellent competitive position, particularly when serving demographics or local client bases that include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They might, for example, consider how marketing materials or correspondence addresses the needs and expectations of an Indigenous audience or identify areas where their existing materials are not respectful of First Nations people and cultures.

Signs That Your Business Would Benefit From Anti-Racism Training

In many cases, racism and discrimination manifest as unfair treatment or casual remarks that can be too easily dismissed or ‘accepted’ by the individual to get by, as we saw in our earlier sports-focused example. While it might be appropriate to consider anti-racism training following reports of racism within the workplace, the better solution is to take a proactive stance and offer education and training before any incidents occur that could harm both the individual and the broader workforce.

Anti-racism training isn’t punitive–it focuses on sharing knowledge and perspectives to explain how racism affects people, why it is so harmful, and how each colleague can take decisive action to help create a culture of inclusion and mutual respect. Any business that wishes to enhance the skills and knowledge their colleagues and representatives use to address, prevent, and respond to racism will benefit, ensuring they are part of the solution without contributing to the long-standing problem!

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