The term ‘BAME’ in Business
Diversity and inclusion have been central talking points in this country for many years. It is not difficult to know why either. Institutional and mediatic racism cannot be denied so it may or may not surprise you that 33% of black people and 34% of Asian people in Britain are unemployed. This figure, compared to 18% of unemployed “White Other” people in the UK, is an indicator of some of the issues of ethnicity in business and why the term BAME is being used so much more these days. This article will discuss why some may take issue with the term and how businesses can make sure to help BAME employees feel like part of the team.
The BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicity) community in the UK is vast, making up 13% of the total population and proving that this umbrella term is used too loosely in describing and understanding experiences from various groups within BAME. Unfortunately, ethnicity and skin colour are sometimes linked with prejudice and unequal opportunities, especially in the corporate world. The term ‘BAME’ indicates a lack of willingness to differentiate and educate people about other cultures and ethnicities. By maintaining the term, it exacerbates the segregation that needs to be demolished between white people and people of minority ethnicity.
The term refers to minority ethnicities in a general sense, it does not take into account firstly the sheer number of different ethnicities involved, especially in the UK where cultural diversity is particularly high. By placing all ethnic groups under one umbrella term, it limits the cultural understanding of employers and instead promotes a tick box style exercise for employing. For instance, a company may hire a black woman or an Asian man without understanding that there are fundamental differences in their experiences and cultures which form their identity. Many companies may only have BAME member in order to show their willingness to include as opposed to actually finding the right person for the job.
Furthermore, encompassing and assuming issues and prejudices faced by all members minority ethnicities is insensitive and counter-progressive. Instead, by inviting employees to discuss their cultures and experiences, it shows cognisance and interest to build a workforce that supports all members of staff equally.
DISCLAIMER The views and opinions expressed above are those of Faisal Chafai and not of the organisation Cobalt HR.