The events occurring in the United States and across the world over the past few weeks have compelled us all to confront some intensely uncomfortable truths about the societies we live in.
However, the discrimination and violence faced by communities of colour is not unique or endemic to the USA. Indeed, this is nothing new.
Racism is a global issue, ingrained into our power and cultural systems in a multitude of ways. The EBRD has, and continues to commit to taking an active stance against racism, or any other form of prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or nationality, both within our organisation and in our countries of operations.
As a global institution, we strive to make each and every one of our staff feel their workplace is a safe space, somewhere where they can not only bring their whole selves to work but feel that they are accepted, embraced, and are enabled to thrive within our work culture.
Our commitment is staunch, and we recognise that progress is an ongoing journey.
On 2 October 2019, the Bank signed up to the Race at Work Charter. The charter commits organisations to taking practical steps to reduce barriers faced by ethnic minority people in recruitment and career progression, and ensure they become representative of society today.
The charter commits all levels of the organisation to a zero tolerance approach to harassment and bullying and ensuring that equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers. Our participation in the Charter also requires us to capture ethnicity data and publicise our progress.
Our African-Caribbean employee network (ACN) is also doing vital work to provide networking, mentoring and leadership opportunities that encourage the professional and personal development of its members, to raise cultural awareness amongst bank staff about African, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cultures, and promote and support diversity throughout and at all levels of our workplace.
In response to the current events, the Leadership Group of the ACN have stated: “It is clear that the recent events in the USA have once again highlighted that racial inequality is still pervasive throughout the world. Racism is not just about deliberate acts of unkindness, it’s also the sometimes unconscious reality that a certain group of people are more often overlooked, pre-judged, profiled, and have to work twice as hard to prove their worth just because of the colour of their skin.
"Racism, whether through indifference, casual ignorance, or by direct explicit bias should not be tolerated. The ACN was set up to raise awareness amongst staff (amongst other things) and recent events have highlighted how important a mechanism this is for addressing bias and inequality and the ACN welcomes this statement as a means to further communicate this message to staff.”
The EBRD Staff Council and all our Diversity & Inclusion Employee Networks are united with Bank management in supporting diversity in the institution and are committed to fighting racism.
We will continue to accompany the practical steps of the Race at Work Charter with an ongoing frank conversation about race.
There is no place for racism, in any of its despicable manifestations, within the EBRD or anywhere else in the world. The EBRD stands committed to confronting head-on any such prejudices and discrimination.
Sir Suma Chakrabarti is the President of the EBRD