As part of the campaign Danske Bank has signed the Race at Work Charter as a public commitment of action for race quality. The Race at Work Charter has more than 750 signatories across the UK. Businesses in Northern Ireland are being encouraged to get involved with other leading companies who have already signed the Race at Work Charter, including Danske Bank, Allstate NI, SHS Group and Translink.

Vicky Davies, CEO designate at Danske Bank said: “Northern Ireland is becoming more diverse with people from different backgrounds living and working here, and calling it home. Businesses need to reflect this change.

“Inclusivity and belonging are at the heart of what we do at Danske Bank. We’re an anti-racist organisation that has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. We’ve launched a race equality network, Origins, to join and collaborate with our existing affinity networks and help ensure that all colleagues feel they belong. We’re listening to our colleagues, learning from the experts, and developing an action plan focused on achieving and monitoring tangible change in this area. Signing the Race at Work Charter is a significant next step in this journey.”

Alex Deonarine, Chair of the Origins Race Equality network at Danske Bank added: “Origins is committed to providing a safe-space for colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds to share and discuss their experiences free from prejudice, judgment or stereotyping. It will also help to raise awareness amongst our colleagues on race equality and cultural diversity, which will benefit our colleagues, our customers and society in Northern Ireland.

”At Danske Bank we want to make it clear to all that we are an anti-racist organisation that has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind; we can, and will, make a real impact on removing racial prejudices. We’re very much looking forward to collaborating with Business in the Community and other leading businesses in Northern Ireland to help make the change that is needed to reflect our growing and changing society.”

Stephanie Reid, Programme Manager from Business in the Community explains: “Business in the Community’s Race at Work campaign and Charter is about ensuring that ethnic minority employees are represented at all levels in the workplace and equality of opportunity for all is at the forefront of good business practices.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and 2020’s anti-racism protests have shone a light on the different lived experiences of people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. There has been a groundswell in business response to these issues and there is a growing desire among Northern Ireland businesses to take action to tackle racism and proactively support the inclusion of those from ethnic minority backgrounds in the workforce.”

By signing the Race at Work Charter a business commits to: appoint an Executive Sponsor for race; capture ethnicity data and publicise progress; commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying; make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers; and take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

Business in the Community offers a range of resources and toolkits to help businesses achieve and amplify the commitments of the Charter. The campaign brings together key organisations and local businesses to work collaboratively to address racism in the workplace.

Geraldine McGahey, Chief Commissioner at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland adds: “The issue of racial discrimination isn’t new to Northern Ireland. We need a concerted effort from all across our society, including our business leaders and local employers if we are to successfully challenge it and to effect real change for those in our minority ethnic communities. We need employers to show both commitment and action, so that together, we can make a real difference to tackle racial prejudice and ensure our workplaces are totally inclusive for every employee regardless of their race. It is important that businesses play their part so that everyone is treated with equal dignity and respect at work.”

Israel Eguaogie, Chairman of Belfast city of Sanctuary and Founder of iAssist-NI and Diverse Youth NI adds: “It is so encouraging to see local businesses taking action against racism in the workplace. We work closely with people from the black community who report that they are subject to racial abuse, almost on a daily basis, so it is evident that racism is a big problem here in Northern Ireland. I am delighted to be working with Business in the Community and these local employers to give them advice and guidance on how to identify racist behaviour, and how to stop it.”

Business in the Community offers a range of resources and toolkits to help businesses achieve and amplify the commitments of the Charter. If your business would like to know more about the Race at Work campaign or sign up to the Charter, please visit their webpage.