“Following the tragic death of George Floyd last month, I have been following events as they unfold across the Atlantic and here in the UK. Personally, I’ve felt a variety of emotions ranging from upset to confusion and anger. I have seen and heard these themes, as well as others, in many conversations with friends, family and colleagues – both white and BAME.
“The last few months of COVID-19 lockdown have brought out so much good in our society. I can’t help feeling upset and irritated at how polar opposite some of the comments, social media posts and organisation responses (or lack of) have been. But I am choosing to focus my time and thoughts on what I can do and who I can influence. I now realise that being ‘not racist’ is insufficient. It may even be counterproductive if I’m not prepared to challenge appropriately when I encounter racism, or any other inequality for that matter. There is a significant difference between ‘non-racist’ and ‘anti-racist’.
“I understand for many it can be uncomfortable discussing race discrimination. Personally, it’s not my most confident topic of discussion and that’s OK. Like many things, the road to equality is a marathon and not a sprint. But our own discomfort should not inhibit our actions or those of our organisations, especially when not acting will negatively impact others. We shouldn’t act because we feel expected to, but because it’s the absolute right thing to do.” – Richard Casey, VMG President
Here are some of our tips for how you can support an inclusive workplace:
- Check in with people. Do not assume recent events are not affecting your workforce, and accept that there is a problem. Listen openly and generously.
- Don’t just be non-racist, be anti-racist. If you need to, educate yourself on race and examine your unconscious bias. Call out racism when you see it. Amplify BAME voices both within your organisation and the wider world.
- Review your ways of working. Critically examine your people policies and processes to support an inclusive workplace. Review your ways of reporting and dealing with racism and intolerance. Create an environment of psychological safety where employees can discuss race and racism, and racist behaviour can be challenged. Make people accountable.
Further reading and resources
- British Veterinary Ethnicity & Diversity Society website and on Facebook and Twitter
- Matthew Limb: “It’s time to call out racism in the profession” – Vet Record, 2019
- Tell Mama Anti-Discrimination Toolkit: A Guide for the Workplace
- ACAS Guidance on Discrimination and Improving EDI
- Binna Kandola: “Unconscious Bias” and “Micro-incivilities” from “Racism at Work: The Danger of Indifference” (2018)
- Amélie Lamont: Guide to Allyship: Become a More Thoughtful and Effective Ally
- Reni Eddo-Lodge: “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”, Bloomsbury (2014).
At VMG, we strive to embrace and drive positive change in the veterinary community and provide a platform for all voices to be heard. We join in solidarity with the communities around the world to support the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice everywhere.
We are very aware that we have a lot of work to do. We promise to seek answers and take action by listening, learning and promoting justice and true equality for all through representation, education, and community allyship.