Pervasive bias throughout British society

28th Dec 2018

(Image: Nick Youngson/Alpha Stock Images CC BY-SA 3.0)

No one will really be surprised by the extent of bias faced by black, Asian and minority ethnic citizens that was highlighted in a recent study carried out for the Guardian newspaper.

Much is focused upon what it largely suggested was unconscious prejudice though what can equally be described as pervasive and even institutional. Neither would be wrong and requires much soul-searching, especially when it is pernicious and deliberate.

The survey found that 43 per cent of those from a minority ethnic background had been overlooked for a work promotion in a way that felt unfair in the last five years – more than twice the proportion of white people (18 per cent) who reported the same experience.

Ethnic minorities are three times as likely to have been thrown out of or denied entrance to a restaurant, bar or club over the same period. It is hardly rocket science to have reported that more than two-thirds believe Britain has a problem with racism.

It was also found that it was not just race but also religious bias in the society. As an example, Muslims living in Britain – a large minority at around 2.8 million people – are more likely to have negative experiences than other religious groups.

They are more likely than Christians, people with no religion and other smaller religions to be stopped by the police, left out of social functions at work or college and find that people seem not to want to sit next to them on public transport.

A separate new report by the Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) also highlighted that Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslim women suffered from being discriminated when trying to enter the labour market.

This is despite more Muslim women than men have been going into higher education for the past decade or more but that their glowing success vanishes when they started looking for employment instead of being able to launch blossoming careers.

The Guardian inferred that the everyday experiences of prejudice could be a result of unconscious bias – “quick decisions conditioned by our backgrounds, cultural environment and personal experiences.”

Other instances of the bias included that 38 per cent of people from ethnic minorities said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting in the last five years, compared with 14 per cent of white people, with black people and women, in particular, more likely to be wrongly suspected. Minorities were also more than twice as likely to have encountered abuse or rudeness from a stranger.

Over half of those from a minority background believed they had been treated differently because of their hair, clothes or appearance, compared with just over a quarter of white people.

The research was claimed to be the “first major piece of UK public polling to focus on ethnic minorities’ experiences of unconscious bias.”

Yet the problems have been known for decades and nothing has been done about it by the Government. This includes not only legislation but also the deep underlying behaviour that needs to be tackled through education to change the culture in the country.

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