Racism at work: how to Be an active bystander

When was the last time you heard someone say or do something racist at work? Perhaps it was a derogatory comment made based on a racial stereotype or something as subtle as watching a colleague be ignored or talked over. Did you think it was acceptable? Did you challenge that inappropriate behaviour? Did you even identify it as racism?

In a study carried out by my fellow psychologists at Pearn Kandola, it was found that over half (52%) of Brits have observed racist behaviour at work. Although we’ve recently seen an increase in reported levels of inappropriate behaviours, sadly, most people who do witness racist behaviour do nothing about it.

All of us who witness inappropriate behaviour are bystanders. But it’s your choice as to whether you’re a passive bystander or an active bystander.

A passive bystander is someone who witnesses a behaviour but does nothing about it. An active bystander is someone who chooses to act when they witness a behaviour, challenging it in an attempt to prevent it from happening again.

So, to those of you who claim not to be racist or claim to be actively anti-racist, I ask: Are you an active bystander?

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