Black History Month: how EHRC acts against race discrimination

by Marcial Boo

Published: 01 Oct 2022

Whether it’s fighting prejudice in the workplace, sport or schools, we believe in ‘Action Not Words’

Today marks the start of Black History Month, when we celebrate the too-often-overlooked achievements over many centuries of people of African and Caribbean descent in British life. Whether in public services, politics, business, sport or the arts, Britain is far better for the contribution of its Black citizens.

This month is also a time to reflect on how we build a fairer future for people of all ethnicities, recognising injustices past and present.

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is Time for Change: Action Not Words. As Britain’s equality regulator, we at the Equality and Human Rights Commission play an important part in making that change. Indeed, we have consistently taken ‘Action (Not Words)’ to improve the lives of Black people in Britain.

Money no barrier to justice

For example, last November, we launched a legal fund to ensure that money is no barrier to justice for victims of race discrimination. The scheme has already been successful, supporting a footballer and a civil servant in their race discrimination cases against their employers. Other cases are ongoing, and our fund remains open to anyone who thinks they have been a victim of racism.

We are acting to deal with discrimination in the use of artificial intelligence. Evidence shows that algorithms might disproportionately affect ethnic minority groups. So we’re launching guidance to help organisations to assess whether their software is biased. We are particularly monitoring local authorities to make sure they use AI fairly in providing essential local services.

We have acted to tackle racism in sport, following reports of discrimination at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We are now working with the new leadership at the club, and with the England and Wales Cricket Board, to ensure that everyone involved in the game can take part fairly. Professionals or amateurs, staff or spectators must be able to get involved in the sport without facing prejudice.

Acting against hair discrimination

And we are taking action to prevent hair discrimination in schools, which can especially affect children with Afro-textured hair. The guidance for schools that we will publish soon follows our earlier financial support to Ruby Williams, who was repeatedly sent home from school because of her Afro hair. Such practices are racial discrimination. Our action has helped to stop them.

We believe in Action Not Words. We have taken these and other actions to protect people at risk of discrimination due to their race. No one should be held back because of this important and legally protected characteristic.

Unfortunately, there is more to do. So the Equality and Human Rights Commission will continue to take action, not just this month but every month, to make Britain a fairer, better country, where everyone is treated equally, whatever their background.