Almost two-thirds of aid workers have experienced racism, research indicates


Almost two-thirds of workers in the aid sector have experienced racism, according to new research.

A report by a working group at the Racial Equity Index, a volunteer-led group that was established to hold the global development sector accountable in dismantling forms of systemic racism, sets out to understand “the state of racism in the global development sector”.

It is the second edition of the black, indigenous and other people of colour-led collective’s Global Mapping Survey and builds on an earlier report from June, which focused on demographic and quantitative data.

The new analysis provides a peer-reviewed summary of both the quantitative and qualitative data collected.

The survey was answered by almost 800 respondents who work in the aid sector across 83 countries and speak nine different languages.

Researchers found that 65 per cent of respondents said they had experienced racism and 98 per cent of those had witnessed racism.

The survey used 11 indicators such as workplace, culture and mission in an attempt to understand how respondents resonated with different identities, experiences, positionalities and geographies.

For example, respondents who identified as Bipoc ranked programming, workplace culture and leadership as the most important when thinking about racial equity from an organisational perspective.

A more detailed dig into the data asked a smaller group of respondents about their experiences of HR management, workplace culture and pay.

When looking at workplace culture, respondents reported numerous incidents of racial abuse, gaslighting and the prioritisation of white voices.

Under HR management, those surveyed reported discriminatory hiring practices and the inequitable treatment of locals in comparison to international staff.

Bipoc staff in these instances earn “less pay for much more work and qualifications”, according to the report.

Bond, the membership body of development charities, was one of 30 partnership organisations that worked with the index to promote the survey.

Lena Bheeroo, engagement and equity manager at Bond, said 65 percent of respondents stating that they experienced racism in the global development sector was unacceptable.

“The fact that 98 per cent of them have also witnessed racism speaks to the work that we as a sector need to continue to invest and make progress in, if we are to interrupt and address racism across all areas,” she added.

“This report resonates with the Bond Racism, Power and Truth report put out earlier this year that also highlighted the necessity for the international development sector to do more on racism.

“The fact that data collected from specifically Bipoc respondents ranked programming, workplace culture and leadership as their top indicators for racial equity in the global sector, calls to attention that these are the areas where we as a sector need to make progress to ensure racial equity in the sector now.”

Research by Bond, published in June, found that nine out of 10 aid sector staff did not think their organisation was committed to diversity, equality and inclusion.

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