Sheffield Race Equality Commission’s initial findings show racism in city remains ‘significant’

Racism remains ‘significant’ in Sheffield as the city’s Race Equality Commission releases initial findings ahead of the full report due to be published next year.

Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 12:09 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 12:09 pm

Sheffield Race Equality Commission was set up in the summer of last year in a bid to address racial disparities in the city, highlighting good practice whilst also making recommendations for change.

The Commission received over 150 pieces of evidence and spoke with more than 165 witnesses at the hearings which were held earlier this year.

Professor Kevin Hylton, chair of Sheffield Race Equality Commission, said: “Sadly, racism and racial disparities remain ongoing concerns for the city.

Kevin Hylton, chair of Sheffield Race Equality Commission.

“Key organisations in the city still show a lack of diversity at the higher levels, and they don’t reflect the communities they serve.

“People affected by racism often have a feeling of not being understood in their workplace by management that lack knowledge of their lived experience.

“So we find members of racialised ethnic groups in Sheffield often don’t feel the trust and confidence in their management that they should.”

The leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Terry Fox, said: “Some of the initial findings are really worrying, but there are also some encouraging signs. For instance we’re seeing more organisations seizing the initiative and taking the right steps, like reporting on pay gaps and creating ‘safe spaces’ for employees.

“More organisations are keen to recruit diverse talent, and making sure they’re retaining and promoting employees in a way that doesn’t lose that diverse talent.”

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, cabinet advisor to the council leader, added: “The commission’s findings are shining a light on the problems. Its recommendations will point us towards concrete solutions. So we’ll have a set of clear recommendations and we can start translating the excellent work of the commission into action – to make sure Sheffield is an increasingly inclusive city where racism and racial disparities are acknowledged and addressed.”

It is important to note that analysis is ongoing but the commission has found evidence to show that racism remains significant across all the themes areas of its inquiry.

Management, board members and workforces are unrepresentative of the city population and do not reflect the lived experiences of a significant proportion of Sheffielders, it found.

There is racism and racial disparities in the workplace, with higher levels of grievance and disciplinary cases for people of colour, the commission noted.

There have been reports of more cases of bullying and harassment affecting members of Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, it found.

Racialised disparities exist in funding for voluntary and community organisations, whilst there are low levels of effective consultation and co-production of facilities in services for under-represented ethnic populations, the commission reported.

There is also evidence of low levels of trust and confidence in key organisations, it found.

In addition, the pandemic is said to have impacted more heavily on Sheffield’s Black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

The Commission’s final report will be launched in 2022.

A legacy group is also hoped to be established to ensure scrutiny going forward and to report regularly on progress made.

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