Black safeguarding professionals face career barriers due to ethnicity, new study warns

Fiona Simpson
Thursday, January 28, 2021

More than 60 per cent of black safeguarding professionals feel their ethnicity has “resulted in barriers being imposed on them in their career”, new research shows.

Black safeguarding professionals reported facing barriers at work, new research shows. Picture: Adobe Stock
Black safeguarding professionals reported facing barriers at work, new research shows. Picture: Adobe Stock

The report by Kijiji, a membership organisation supporting black safeguarding professionals working with children and young people, also found that less than a quarter (23 per cent) of members polled said that they are provided with fair and equal progression opportunities in their organisation.

Some 44 per cent of 100 professionals asked said they “strongly disagreed” that they had been provided such opportunities.

The research also found that despite negative experiences faced by employees, black safeguarding professionals "saw their (often, previously disinterested) employers post statements committing to ‘anti-racism’ and acknowledging their failings to address racial inequalities; roll out ‘Unconscious Bias’ and other Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training; and embark on strategies and plans to do something” following the death of George Floyd in America in 2020.

“This finding suggests that resourced, bold, and sustained efforts are required to change the reality faced by black safeguarding professionals,” the report states.

“It is widely held that greater workforce diversity and outcomes correlates with better outcomes for children, young people and families accessing services that are appropriately representative and diverse,” researchers said.

They put forward recommendations for employers to better support the group including:

  • Commission culturally competent independent resources to engage black safeguarding professionals and to provide a safe forum to listen and understand their experience of race equality within the workplace.

  • Undertake workforce audits to provide an evidence-based picture of workforce equality and experience of progression and opportunities for all staff.

  • Ringfence sustainable funding to commission and/or employ dedicated ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ experts to tackle root causes of structural and systemic barriers that result in poor workforce outcomes. 

  • Create specific leadership opportunities for black safeguarding professionals.

  • Invest in high quality, equitable learning and development opportunities for black safeguarding professionals.

The study also calls for increased support for black safeguarding professionals in learning and development, sufficient organisational responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, and for more trauma-informed practice. 

Laurelle Brown, co-founder and director of KIJIJI, warned that services for children and young people are at risk of failing children and young people where structural racial barriers exist.

She said: "Diverse workforces, with fair and equitable opportunities for all staff, enable decisions and processes to protect diverse children and young people from harm to be shaped by those with diverse identities and experiences. Too often, the experience and outcomes of black safeguarding professionals is shrouded by being mislabelled as 'BAME'; organisations and services must prioritise investment in effective strategies and action to address issues preventing black safeguarding professionals from thriving.”

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