Integrated Workplaces Promoted

Anti Racist Workplace Week was launched today by Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson of the Strategic Monitoring Group of the National Action Plan Against Racism.

Anti Racist Workplace Week provides an opportunity to mark the contribution of migrant workers to the success of the Irish economy and of companies around the country. The core aim of the week is to stimulate and support companies to take steps to promote equality, to take account of cultural diversity and to prevent discrimination within culturally diverse workforces.

The organisations involved in the week have emphasised the need for integrated workplaces. This is based on workplaces that promote equality, accommodate cultural diversity and combat discrimination and harassment. The integrated workplace reflects a particular understanding of integration where different cultures and identities are valued and seen as a resource. Integrated workplaces are developed by:

  • supporting Black and minority ethnic (including Traveller) employees to adapt to the workplace;
  • supporting all employees to adapt to and engage effectively with a culturally diverse workforce;
  • taking action to adapt workplace policies, procedures and practices to respond to the practical implications of cultural diversity and to realise the full potential of a culturally diverse workforce.

Speaking at the launch, Lucy Gaffney said ”For most migrants the main point of contact with the indigenous population is in the workplace as staff or customers. It is, therefore, crucial that the workplace experiences are positive ones. The better the quality of the work experience the more likely it is that employees will remain motivated, loyal to the organisation and committed to excellence. That experience may affect how they relate to wider Irish society also.

I believe that the corporate community has a critical role to play in ensuring that Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the talent and skills that new workers in Ireland are bringing to the economy. The challenge for the corporate community is to now make this issue a priority in the boardroom. Many companies are taking initiatives and reaping the benefits. More need to follow. By being prepared, being open to change and planning for the short to medium term the increased levels of diversity in Ireland will bring significant economic benefits to Irish companies”.

This year, the week involves:

  • a public awareness campaign using outdoor advertising and national and local radio. This emphasises the links between promoting equality and respect, the need for workplace change and achieving business success;
  • non governmental organisations in Athy, Galway, Wicklow, Donegal, Limerick, Ballymun, Louth, Tallaght, Ennis and Tullamore have developed action plans to involve local employers and trade unionists in developing integrated workplaces;
  • enterprises around the country are being encouraged to put up a poster that establishes their commitment to creating an integrated workplace and to take an initiative to mark the week.

Speaking at the launch, Niall Crowley, Chief Executive Officer of the Equality Authority highlighted that ”there is no room for complacency. 23% of current Equality Authority casefiles involve allegations of discrimination on the race ground under the Employment Equality Acts. The allegations of discrimination relate to access to employment, dismissal, working conditions and equal pay. Particular issues also arise in the casefiles in relation to recognition of foreign qualifications by various professional bodies and in relation to eligibility of people from outside the EU for civil service posts”.

Anti Racist Workplace Week is organised by Congress, IBEC, SFA, CIF, Chambers Ireland, the IFA, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

David Begg, General Secretary of Congress commented ”Congress believes that integration must begin in the workplace, if it is to be effective across wider society. But in order to succeed, investment in workplace integration must be a key priority. This has been acknowledged in Towards 2016 and Congress believes it is time to make this commitment a reality. We must aim to make our workplaces effective role models for wider society.”

Our economy has grown substantially over the last number of years, and Irish people must be willing to share the spoils with those who have contributed so much to this economic development. As a nation, we must realise that migrant workers are an addition to our workforce and are not displacing Irish workers. They have a legitimate expectation of joining Irish society in all its guises. The small business sector actively supports diversity in Irish society and the elimination of racism in business and employment. It is important to recognise that diversity is part of the natural order – inclusiveness is the real challenge.” states Patricia Callan, Director, Small Firms Association.

John Dunne, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland said ”Migrant workers represent a vital resource in meeting Ireland’s labour needs in the future. Given the strength of our economy and our positive experience to date with our new immigrant community, it is vital that all stakeholders in Ireland’s labour market play their part in ensuring that these new residents are made to feel welcome. It is for these reasons that Chambers Ireland is proud to support Anti Racism in the Workplace week.

Anti Racist Workplace Week is funded by the European Commission, the National Action Plan Against Racism and the Equality Authority. It is organised simultaneously in Ireland and Northern Ireland through the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and the Equality Authority.

ENDS

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