An introduction to an Anti-racist Wales
Introduction explaining the full Anti-racist Wales Action Plan.
In this page
The Welsh Government will take action to make Wales an Anti-racist nation. In our many discussions and conversations with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people (ethnic minority people for short) and wider, they told us that we needed to take an anti-racist approach.
During 2020 and 2021 the Welsh Government consulted on a Draft Race Equality Action Plan.
We are now publishing the final plan, setting out what we will do.
We have strengthened and renamed it to the “Anti-racist Wales Action Plan” (the plan). From our community engagement, and the responses to our consultation, it became clear that an anti-racist approach was needed.
Adopting an anti-racist approach requires us to look at the ways that racism is built into our policies, formal and informal rules and regulations and generally the ways in which we work. In this introduction, we will be using the term ‘policies’ for short, and these are often made by Government and affect all our lives.
It is important that the Welsh Government has made looking at its own policies in all areas, health, education, employment, housing and many more, a priority to ensure they are anti-racist. This is an ambitious step.
This document aims to introduce you to the detailed plan we have published.
Nestled within the recently erected statue in Cardiff of Betty Campbell, the visionary community activist and teacher, are the words:
“We were a good example to the rest of the world, how you can live together regardless of where you came from, or the colour of your skin.”
Unfortunately, many people, including many who were born here, still experience racism. So Betty Campbell’s vision of Wales as an example to the world of how to live together, is a goal we must continue to strive to achieve. In this plan we renew her ambition for Wales to be a role model. But we also recognise that we have a long way to go.
We want to make a real difference to current and future generations of ethnic minority people. We want them to thrive, and to continue to help make Wales a greener, stronger and fairer nation. We want a Wales where everyone thrives and feels valued.
In this document, which accompanies the more detailed plan, we explain:
- why we are doing this work
- where we want to get to by 2030, and how we will do it
- what is racism, and what is anti-racism
- how anti-racism differs from past efforts to tackle racism
- what is distinctive about this plan, and examples of actions we are taking
- how we will make sure that this plan does not fail
- what the challenge is for us all
In the detailed Plan we have listened to what people told us and made the actions more focused on anti-racism. We are determined to make a difference.
People rightly want to see action and change. Everyone told us that they did not want actions that take years to deliver, or indeed fail to improve their lives. We need to avoid what many call the ‘implementation gap’.
The Plan sets a vision for 2030. We know we will need to take action every year until then. This first published version of the plan sets out what we will do from June 2022 to June 2024. We intend to build on the learning from each 2 year period, before we develop work for the next 2 years.
We developed the Plan in collaboration with a wide range of communities and organisations across the country. We recognised the need to jointly shape the goals and actions with ethnic minority people. We made valuing people’s lived experience one of key the values that underpins the Plan.
We acknowledge that there was no one single term we all could agree on to describe the diversity of groups from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds. The feedback from Gypsies and Traveller people was stronger; they felt the term simply didn’t apply to them or include them. However, there was agreement that the acronym “BAME” should not be used. We have therefore decided to continue to use the term ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people’ in full, and ‘ethnic minority’ as the short form.
When collectively discussing racism towards a section of the society, these terms can be helpful. However, in workplaces or when giving or receiving services, allowing people to express their identity in the way they choose is important.
We wish to honour and give thanks for the immense contribution made by ethnic minority people in terms of sharing their leadership and their lived experiences towards making this plan what it is. It is only by acknowledging their work, pain and lived experiences that we can move ahead.
This document is addressed to those who experience or witness racism. We include those with mixed heritage or as some prefer to be called “mixed race”. People with mixed heritage, are now one of the largest of our population groups. They suffer no less racism than others ethnic minority people. They are also part of our next generation of young people who will work with us, and help us shape this work.
We also address this plan to organisations, leaders and people with power. People in leadership positions are often from majority white communities; people who for many decades have had authority to make polices (written laws, rules, processes, regulations etc.). Generally, these policies, have not sufficiently addressed how they may adversely affect ethnic minority people, leading to historical injustices.
Indeed over time, negative perceptions of ethnic minority people have become so embedded into these ways of working that they are difficult to recognise and reverse without conscious effort and forward thinking.
In issuing this plan we acknowledge that few of our organisations have significant numbers of ethnic minority people in leadership positions. So much of the responsibility for change, both of hearts and minds tackling the racism built-in to structures and systems, must lie with white people.
We will be counting on the public, third and private sector organisations we fund to be key allies in this work. We will require them to implement the plan with leadership, commitment and energy.
Indeed, as it is was often said:
“…seize the time” and “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”
Black Panthers, quoted in the 1960s.
Why take a different approach?
In the draft plan, we explained that we wanted a different kind of plan:
- one based on the lived experiences of ethnic minority communities
- one that was partly designed by them
- one that tackled the root causes of racism in how we lead, manage and work with others to deliver public services
Ethnic minority people spoke to us about the difficulties of challenging racist behaviour. They spoke of how they felt helpless and frustrated, due to the lack of guidance, support and proper channels for redress.
Many felt that a lack of transparency over complaints about racism and discrimination was feeding a racist culture in some public services. They felt the actions we take needed to reflect people’s real experiences and their priorities.
There were concerns that existing legislation, for example the Equality Act 2010 and other powers are inadequate or were not being used properly to hold Government and public bodies to account.
Whilst welcoming the ambition of the draft plan, many felt it included too many goals and actions. Also, it did not say when things would be done by, or what impact they would have. People feared that in time, commitments would get lost, or not delivered.
Others felt that there was too much jargon and ‘policy speak’.
We have responded by making the final plan simpler, more focused, and clearer. There will now be a group of independent external experts and people from ethnic minority communities to hold us to account.
We give our full response to people’s feedback in the detailed plan. We will focus on the actions that make the most positive difference to people’s lives. We will not try to ‘fix’ ethnic minority people. Instead, we will change the systems, polices, processes and ways of working that have too often excluded and worse, damaged ethnic minority people.
By involving people differently, we better understood the impact our draft plan would have on the lives of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority people. This helped us look at impacts in an integrated way and support our continued assessment of impact through our Integrated Impact Assessment approach.
Where do we want to get to by 2030, and how will we get there?
We developed a statement of where we would like to get to by 2030. This will help us to all pull in the same direction, and towards the same destination. We are all agreed on the importance of creating sustainable, long-term change, starting now.
In your responses to the consultation, people were generally happy with the suggested Vision of ‘A Wales which is anti-racist’.
But we agree with those who said that the next 8 or 9 years is a very short time to reverse decades of racism, so the vision is long-term, for up to 2030 and beyond. It is there to help us all focus on where we want to get to. It would be naive to think we can completely eradicate racism in Wales; but we can start to create a culture with zero tolerance of racism, and change our systems and institutions to ‘design-out’ racism.
The Purpose is why we are doing this work. It is to make a measurable change to the lives of ethnic minority people by tackling racism.
Following the consultation, we have ensured that this plan isn’t just for the Welsh Government. It is for all public services, and other sectors wherever we can influence them. So it must be a joint effort, by the organisations we fund or can influence to “collectively” make a meaningful difference to the lives of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people by tackling racism.
We will take responsibility for tracking how and whether the actions in the plan are being implemented, in all sectors. We will ask for evidence of progress.
Where we can’t deliver on promised actions, we will explain why we faltered or failed.
You were also happy with the 3 values that were developed for the draft plan. These values are:
- open and transparent
- putting lived experience at the heart of all we do
What is racism, and what is an anti-racist approach?
We have developed a vision which is about anti-racism. Here we explain more what that means, and how it differs from previous approaches.
For many generations Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people, and others not always thought of as ethnic minorities, like Romani Gypsies, Irish Travellers, Roma or Jewish people, and parents and children of mixed heritage, have experienced racism in their daily lives.
Racism is visible every day in the media. However, it is less talked about in everyday conversations, except of course among ethnic minority people. It is they who suffer the consequences of poorer life chances and employment opportunities, micro-aggression in service delivery, and discrimination in schools, and other education institutions.
Most ethnic minority people say that they simply want fair services, and to be treated the same as other citizens but that is often not their experience. For example, their mobile homes may be removed by the police from traditional stopping places where they have parked their caravans. They may be regularly stopped and searched, simply because they are young, African-Caribbean men. Or their children may experience racist behaviour in schools.
Ethnic minority people have become accustomed to living with the reality of racism. Many committed ethnic minority organisations, from the third sector in particular, have long been calling for change.
But the murder of George Floyd and the greater impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority groups brought the conversation about racism into everyone’s home, office and organisation. As a nation we have started to have difficult discussions, about how we define our history, what we do about monuments that celebrate slavery, and how and what we should teach the next generation. These events have encouraged people from all communities to speak out against these and previous injustices.
As a society we have started to talk about power, ‘white privilege’ and, more recently, about being an ‘ally’ or an ‘accomplice’. We are starting to discuss where the responsibility for change lies, and how people holding power and influence need to act now.
Racism disturbs most people. But it is those who lead, and have power, who have the greatest responsibility to do something about it. We agree that we need to do something different, because doing what we did before is not likely to produce a different outcome.
For many decades people have tried to look at how we can address and even prevent racism and its impact.
In the early decades of attempting to tackle racism there was a common belief that if all ethnic minority people “integrate” into mainstream society i.e. became more westernised, learned the main language (and lost their cultures, accents and languages) and behave more like the majority, this would remove racism. However, this did not result in greater acceptance of ethnic minority people. The poorer outcomes for them remained.
This was followed by what was commonly called “multi-culturalism”. The thinking was that if ethnic minorities shared their cultures and traditions, and the mainstream society did the same, the problem of racism would disappear. This approach of sharing what is commonly called “saris, samosas and steel bands” became skewed with mainly ethnic minority people sharing their cultures, to appease and to ask for inclusion into decision making fora. Again, this approach to stop racism also didn’t work!
The more recent approach of “race equality” worked better, as it was, and still is, under-pinned by the Equality Act 2010. But again, its impact has been limited. This approach argued that if we gave ethnic minority people and other protected groups equal opportunity to achieve what people in the mainstream society were able to achieve, that would “equalise” the race to enter and succeed.
Ethnic minority people for instance could have training and development as part of the positive action allowed under the Equality Act. However, those who did succeed by having some sort of an equal chance at the start of the race, often failed soon after they entered organisations. The policies for example, of progression, mentoring, sponsorship and the need to have informal networks that helped people progress were lacking for ethnic minority people and so discriminated against them.
The focus in all three approaches was about how we ”fix” ethnic minority people. None took into account the historical imbalance of power between white and ethnic minority communities. Further, they did not address how racism is embedded in organisations’ polices, processes and ways of working practices, to ensure power and influence remain with the (white) majority. The legacy of racism persists.
Another approach, “diversity and inclusion” has also failed. This focus of involving people from different backgrounds such as women, LGBTQ+ and disabled people for example, in discussions and opinion sharing; and so bringing them “to the table”, also didn’t take account of the power imbalances.
Their participation had limited value and left them disappointed with the results of their inputs and efforts. Whilst they were at the table they did not have authority to deliver real changes; power was still held by the majority. These, mainly white people in leadership positions continued to make policies and decisions that did not take account of the needs and interests of ethnic minority people.
Anti-racism is about changing the systems, policies and processes which for so long have embedded a negative view of ethnic minority people.
These negative biases can only be tackled through an anti-racist approach. ‘Fixing’ ethnic minority people, either as individuals or as a group, is not the answer.
Often it is the systems for progression, and for selecting who will be mentored, coached or sponsored, that fail people. In service provision, it is often the ‘colour-blind’ approach that works against ethnic minority people.
Frequently, the assumption is made that ‘providing the same for everyone’ will be the most appropriate service. Whereas in fact, taking people’s differences (e.g. language, dietary needs, dress, etc.) leads to a more sensitive, accessible and effective service. Often the consequence of the colour-blind approach is that ethnic minority people struggle to enter jobs, or to progress, or to receive services appropriate to their needs.
For us, anti-racism involves actively identifying and getting rid of policies, systems, structures and processes that produce radically different outcomes for ethnic minority groups. It requires us to acknowledge that even if we do not see ourselves as ‘racist’ we can, by turning our eye away, be complicit in allowing racism to continue.
We know that negative stereotypes about ethnic minority people can develop from as early as age four. So even without knowing it, we can be socialised into holding negative stereotypes. And when people are in a position of power, these stereotypes can have a major impact on the decisions they make, and therefore on ethnic minority people.
By taking an anti-racist approach we are choosing to take radical action, rather than the ‘small steps’ of the past. The precise form of this action will of course vary between different policy areas, and this is reflected in the plan.
The Anti-racist Wales Action Plan is just that, it is a plan to do something different about racism in all the areas in which the Welsh Government has control or influence.
Prior to issuing this plan the Welsh Government had already accepted the recommendations of the First Minister’s advisory group on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minorities. This Socio-economic subgroup’s report concluded that systemic and cultural racism played a key role in the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.
The Welsh Government also accepted and implemented recommendations made by Professor Charlotte Williams on the need to incorporate the history of slavery and colonialism into the school curriculum. The First Minister had also commissioned Gaynor Legall to lead a review of street names and monuments associated with slavery and colonialism, to see what could be done to rebalance, explain and interpret what was really behind those names, statues and markings.
This will ensure that present and future generations will learn about all of our histories. In accepting these recommendations, we acknowledge that institutional racism exists, and that we must do something different to eradicate it.
However, we must be on our guard, and alert to the pernicious nature of racism. Racism can change over time. Previously, it was often expressed in obvious and open ways. Nowadays, it is often more subtle. But it is no less insidious in the impact it has on people’s lives.
So what is different about this plan?
In rewriting this plan we have tried to say what we will do, in simpler terms.
We have made positive efforts to bring in the lived experiences and expertise of experts and communities alike. We have co-designed each stage with you. This has proved a very useful way of holding ourselves to account. We will continue to engage with you as we deliver the plan, and when we set out the next steps after June 2024.
We have also reflected on how having several disadvantages, for example through race and gender, or race and disability, can multiply discrimination and disadvantage. For example, racism may have more impact on women in receiving health services. One illustration is maternity services, where we know that inappropriate services may result in poorer outcomes not just for ethnic minority mothers, but also for their children.
In terms of the Goals and actions in the plan, the main change is that we have now chosen to focus on 6 areas where ethnic minority people are affected by racism, and where we want to make a measurable difference. They are listed below.
However, we want to start by acknowledging the strengths of ethnic minority people, in leadership and in surviving racism. From the Windrush elders, to the resilience of refugees, both now and in the past, arriving at our shores, we know that people have survived considerable hardships and trauma.
We want to build on the immense strengths, leadership and resilience ethnic minority people bring. We commit ourselves to supporting ethnic minority organisations who enable and empower people to survive and thrive. We also commit ourselves to developing the considerable leadership within ethnic minority communities, at all levels. We will regularly engage these leaders to inform us as we find our way forward with this and other work. We have some immediate actions needed in the here and now, particularly given the cost of living crisis and the likely disproportionate impact on ethnic minority workers and people.
We also value the support and input we have received from the Trade Unions and the Welsh TUC. We also applaud organisations like the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) in Wales, and more recently, the Welsh Association of Physicians of African and Caribbean origin who bring much needed medical and nursing professionals from South East Asia and Africa respectively.
The Ethnic Minority Women in Welsh Healthcare and many other mentoring and development initiatives also empower and support the successful progression of potential leaders to enter into Wales or as existing workforces in Wales, and offer continuous support. Many of our key services, like our health and social care services would not be possible without ethnic minority people working in them.
Our recent housing of Afghan refugees and people from Ukraine demonstrates the way that Government, public services, the private sector and ordinary citizens can rise to meet the needs of people in crisis when they arrived here. Ours is, and should always be, a nation of sanctuary.
As indicated above, to guide our work, we have chosen to focus on 6 different ways in which people can experience racism.
- Your experience of racism in every-day life.
- Your experience of racism when experiencing service delivery.
- Your experience of racism in being part of the workplace.
- Your experience of racism in gaining jobs and opportunities.
- Your experience of racism when you lack visible role models in positions of power.
- Your experience of racism as a refugee or asylum seeker.
1. Your experience of racism in everyday life
In many of the discussion with ethnic minority communities we heard how when going about your daily life, you experienced racism from strangers and worse, from those who should be caring and supporting you or when you were going about your daily life.
Here are 2 examples of what you said:
“One time I was on the bus … I was looking down at my phone and didn’t’ notice him (an old man) … This woman told me to get up and let him sit down. Then she started saying – “These people are so rude … these immigrants don’t have any manners … I bet you don’t even have a passport … you have bad manners. Then the woman was bad mouthing Muslims. I wanted to defend myself but my mum didn’t want to make a fuss. No one else got involved, everyone stayed quiet.”
Women Connect First, Hayaat Women’s Trust and Henna Foundation.
“No we have not seen any good reports in the newspapers apart from the ones with sport personalities. We are always shown as bad people, but we are not” and “I stay off Facebook and other sites because as soon as you hear of other Travellers you know Facebook will be full of racist stuff.”
Travelling Ahead (TGP Cymru).
Day to day experience of racism is familiar. For example, we know that people who identify as Black or Black British are more likely to be stopped and searched than people from a White ethnic group (based on self-defined ethnicity). Full details of these statistics and others are in the detailed plan.
We were also, rightly, challenged about a lack of clarity and visibility in the draft plan about Jewish people, and people of Islamic faith, experiencing racism. We want to emphasise that in addressing racism we very much include these groups, and the racism they often experience.
Gypsies and Traveller people also find themselves pushed into the margins of society and face racism, including restrictions on their life choices and being denied culturally appropriate accommodation.
In the full detailed plan we commit to a wide range of actions across Health, Education, Social Care and so forth. But here are 2 examples of actions we will take:
We will take a number of actions to tackle racism through building cohesive and integrated communities. For example, we will tackle Islamophobia through:
- work with faith groups, community leaders and equalities partners to explore the adoption of a definition of Islamophobia
- mainstream tackling Islamophobia in our anti-racism training, and policy-making processes
- ensuring the ‘Hate Hurts Wales’ campaign highlights the harm caused by religious hate and bigotry
To recognise that safe, culturally appropriate accommodation is necessary in order for individuals to flourish in other parts of their lives and to address the lack of site provision and poor quality of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation in Wales, the Welsh Government will, among other actions:
- commission a three-year pilot programme to provide independent, trusted advice to those seeking to develop private site
- review the current funding policy for Gypsy and Traveller sites, and assess its effectiveness
- re-draft the Gypsy and Traveller Sites Guidance, to ensure that the design and location needs of communities are better reflected in the document
2. Your experience of racism when experiencing service delivery
We also heard how ethnic minority people, when approaching health, social services, education or other services they are entitled to, often do not receive an appropriate or sensitive service. They often find that they can’t complain, or feel dismissed if you do! The experience is particularly hard for ethnic minority women and children, and for Gypsy and Traveller people.
Here are 2 examples of what was said to us:
“Giving birth was particularly traumatic and I almost lost my second son due to him stopping breathing – when I alerted the midwife I was told not to worry “he’s a lovely colour” and yet he wasn’t breathing. Had I not advocated for him or been completely conscious he would not be here today. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
North Wales Race Equality Network.
“I went in as a confident child and when I came out all my parents’ work had been undone. I took a long break after that.”
Women Connect First, Hayaat Women’s Trust and Henna Foundation.
In our Health actions, we will address many inequalities faced in service provision, in the experience of working in the Health sector and in the much needed improvement in well-being that we all need to thrive and keep well. Below we give an example of what we will do about the very negative experiences of many ethnic minority women and babies.
In relation to Education we heard that many students and those supporting ethnic minority children and young adults, across all levels of education (schools, further education and higher education) experience racism in how they are treated and how their academic progress is assessed. In order to tackle these inequalities we have a number of actions as detailed in the revised plan.
In the full, detailed plan we commit to a wide range of actions across Health, Education, Social Care and other service areas. Here are 2 examples of actions we will take:
To identify and break down barriers which prevent equitable access to healthcare services for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, we will, by 2023.
Ensure that the Maternity and Neonatal Safety Support Programme, co-designed and developed with ethnic minority communities and stakeholders, will detail and implement specific changes to maternity services that will improve outcomes and experiences of women and families from ethnic minority communities who experience health inequalities.
To improve the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic learners and teachers in schools, we will require reporting of racist incidents and harassment in schools and colleges through:
- strengthened data collection
- analysis of how incidents were dealt with/action taken
- identifying/recording whether the incident was resolved successfully for the victim
3. Your experience in being part of the workplace
Despite the large number of ethnic minority people in our workforces, many of you have suffered racial abuse in your professional lives. This can include racism from clients or customers you may be helping or treating, or indeed racism from managers or colleagues. Some worry that rules on promotion, or more often hidden biases, discriminate against them being successful, despite them being highly qualified and experienced.
Here are 2 examples of what was said to us:
"I have faced micro aggression at work and have also been treated differently to my colleagues” … ”They say I was too confident and asked too many questions. But it was clearly because I was Black.”
National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Youth Forum.
"Almost 60% of the respondents taking part in our survey are employed in the Public Sector such as the NHS, Councils etc. and our survey has revealed that 68% of the respondents have more than likely experienced racism at their place of work. The majority of the respondents were concerned about the impact of racism at their place of work and almost 40% disagreed that employers had an equal opportunity for career progression/promotion at their workplace.”
Hindu Cultural Association Wales.
In the full, detailed plan we commit to a wide range of actions across Health, Education, Social Care and so forth. But here are 2 or several examples of actions we will take:
To address the poor experience of being in the Health workforce, the Welsh Government will improve workforce data quality and introduce a Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) by September 2023 to provide an evidence base to make and measure targeted structural change. This will be underpinned by cultural change, through targeted interventions at both local and national level, developed through social partnership.
As an organisation, we in the Welsh Government will create a sizeable shift in culture, including behaviour change, within the organisation, towards values and behaviours for anti-racism. An example of one action is that we will engage expert consultancy support with appropriate lived experience and experience of working effectively in a government, to review Welsh Government’s Human Resource policies, procedures and practices, (entry to exit) to ensure they are explicitly anti-racist.
4. Your experience in gaining jobs and opportunities
For many ethnic minority communities, both before and after COVID-19, the experience of facing racism when applying for jobs has been very challenging. It has been challenging because some organisations can intentionally or unintentionally discriminate by having subtle or not so subtle rules that exclude people at all levels of entry. Also, some support initiatives like the apprenticeship and entrepreneurship schemes were felt not to address your needs. This problem can be multiplied if you are a young person or a woman.
Even more serious is that there are gaps in how much ethnic minority people get paid for similar jobs they do compared to their white counterparts. This is unacceptable.
Here are 2 examples of what you said to us:
”Many Black Asian and Minority Ethnic members are unable to get employment in service sectors, especially in public sectors like Council, Assembly etc. As a result of this situation, many ethnic minority people who have graduated (from Universities) in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, are either driving taxis or working in low paid jobs. On one occasion, an Indian person who had an MBA from a UK university had been denied employment by a Cardiff employer because he had an accent.”
“There were some reports of salaries not being adequate and participants doing work beyond their duties.” “The salary is not appropriate for the workload”. “Good paying jobs are very hard to get if you are Black Asian and Minority Ethnic, lack of opportunities.” “I have been treated fairly, however salaries are not always proportionate to the job that I do.”
National Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Youth Forum.
Again, in the full, detailed plan we commit to a wide range of actions in our employability and entrepreneurship work. We also include work we will do to make work fairer for all. Here are 2 examples of actions we will take:
To ensure that all Welsh Government employability programmes offer a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for all staff and students, where racial harassment and discrimination is addressed, we will:
- review actions taken on anti-racism within the workforce of our providers of learning and delivery organisations for employability programmes and services
- introduce a programme of anti-racism training for all our learning and delivery organisations
Deliver our National Milestone to eliminate the ethnicity pay gap by 2050. In the short term we will incorporate data on Black, Asian and minority ethnic pay and employment into our fair work outcome measures, and progress plans to review the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Where they were hoping to develop or harness their entrepreneurial skills, many ethnic minority people often felt they could not get the right advice, or providers ignored their needs, or did not open up opportunities, or assumed that their families would help with financial support.
5. Your experience of lacking visible role
We have made previous commitments to increase the diversity of Boards and local government. For example, the groups that oversee the work of the organisations we fund, such as the Arts Council of Wales, Natural Resources Wales, Sport Wales, local authorities, and a host of not for profit (third sector) organisations. Despite those commitments, ethnic minority people remain unconvinced that sufficient change has occurred or will occur.
You also felt that the Welsh Government itself needed to be a role model, so that you see many more opportunities and chances to progress for ethnic minority people. The lack of ‘people like you’ being visible in public life, including the Welsh Government is troubling, and discourages people from applying.
Here are 2 examples of what was said to us:
“There needs to be recruitment of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people at all levels in the workplace, including on interview panels. It should be a requirement of every organisation to actively employ Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people and address barriers to allow Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people to progress to the top. Racism is not something that can be eradicated by having the right policies in a company; it depends on each individual’s attitude and mind set.”
Neath Port Talbot Black Minority Ethnic Community Association (Questionnaire Adult response).
"I believe there should be more Black Asian and Minority Ethnic in power and politics. These people really understand us and experienced what we do.”
Race Council Cymru, NYF.
The Welsh Government recognises that it needs to be an exemplar organisation, reflecting the presence of ethnic minority people at all levels of its organisation. It has put some action into place to make sure this happens. It is also asking organisations in the public, private and third sector it funds to do the same.
The Welsh Government also has a strategy to ensure greater representation and participation of leaders in different decision-making forums, like Boards that oversee public sector organisations. It will ensure that there is greater representation of and participation by ethnic minority people, including disabled people, LGBTQ+ and other protected groups.
In the full, detailed plan we commit to a wide range of actions to increase representation and participation in decision making forums within the Welsh Government and across public services. Here we share 2 examples of actions we will take:
To ensure that Welsh Government workforce reflects the diverse population of Wales and ethnic minority groups are attracted to see it as an employer of choice, and to gain their confidence that they will have a rewarding career and meet their full potential, we will take several actions.
One of them will be to develop specific actions, using positive action, to reach the recruitment target of 20% of our recruits from an ethnic minority background by 2026, at all levels of the organisation.
Each National Health Service (NHS) organisation will commit to their involvement in the Aspiring Board Members Programme, ensuring education, mentoring and support to participants who will be from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background.
Academi Wales, to work in partnership with the NHS and other appropriate organisations to develop and run an Aspiring Board Members Programme.
6. Your experience of racism as a refugee or asylum seeker
Many refugees and migrants to Wales are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic. However, the plight of all people who come to our nation for sanctuary matters to us.
We know that people seeking sanctuary often feel unsupported to achieve better and more equal outcomes; outcome in all aspects of their well-being. Good relations between sanctuary seekers and wider society can also often be tense. Forced migrants can have problems in accessing the right advice at the right time and so suffer more harmful outcomes.
We know that forced migrants can integrate with communities and the wider community can thrive, but much is needed for this to happen.
However, as the response to the recent crisis in the Ukraine demonstrates what we know that individual citizens, communities, public services and Government can work together, as “Team Wales”, to respond to a crisis where refugees will need all basic services.
We also know that forced migrants can also have different experiences depending on their ethnicity and race be it in their country of origin or here when they arrive for refuge. They can experience greater numbers of hate crimes and racism.
Here are 2 examples of what you said to us:
”I think that the immigration system in the UK is very discriminatory. It is slow and difficult to find out what is happening. When you are seeking protection, having to wait for four years or longer for some people to find out if you can stay is very stressful, and (it) does not seem to be a fair or humanitarian system.”
Travelling Ahead TGP Cymru.
“The longer they (asylum seekers) remain on benefits the harder it will be for them to progress into employment or self-employment. Meaningful employment allows Syrians to integrate more with society in general, improves self-esteem, confidence and motivation and has positive benefits for the entire family.”
We do not always have the power, to make a lot of changes as we are led by what the UK Government sets as rules; rules for entry, for accommodation, for benefits etc. However, where we can act, we will do so. Here are 2 examples of actions we will take:
We will continue to be a ‘Nation of Sanctuary’ through the implementation of the Nation of Sanctuary: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Plan (2019). Among many actions we will for example:
- ensure forced migrants living in Wales can access the advice and advocacy services that they need, and are supported to effectively integrate with communities
- ensure the sustainability of ESOL Hubs, to provide consistent high-quality language proficiency assessments and provision of appropriate language courses
- ensure refugees are supported to avoid destitution and homelessness through continued funding for a ‘Move On’ accommodation project
We will also ensure that the employability of forced migrants is supported through:
- awareness raising of migrants’ rights to work with employers
- sector-specific employment programmes such as the Wales Asylum and Refugee Doctors scheme
- advocating for the right to work for asylum seekers
What you said to us:
“When my son started school they asked for his ethnicity but there was no “British Pakistani” In high school it feels we’ve been treated differently even though I am British born.”
Women Connect First, Hayaat Women’s Trust and Henna Foundation.
“Get rid of the equal opportunities monitoring form. Writing your name, declaring your ethnicity, can negatively affect recruitment.”
Race Council Cymru (Swansea).
The collection and analysis of data, including personal narratives from you who are experts by experience, is key to understanding the extent of the inequalities facing ethnic minority communities in Wales.
We know from education data that ethnic minority children and young people experience racist bullying and discrimination in schools and higher education institutions. We know from labour market data that ethnic minority job seekers face a tougher time finding employment and are more likely to be stuck in unsafe and insecure jobs.
We know from service delivery data that ethnic minority communities encounter barriers when trying to access services from health professionals and other providers. However, we also know that there is a lack of good quality data on ethnic minority people in Wales, particularly among people within ethnic minority communities who have more than one protected characteristic. There are several reasons why this is the case:
- Ethnic minority sample sizes in Wales, which are often insufficient to allow meaningful analysis at a level detailed enough to observe differences across specific ethnic minority groups.
- Incomplete and inconsistent reporting of ethnicity data among organisations across Wales.
- A lack of trust in how your data will be used, culminating in a hesitancy to disclose ethnicity status, especially to government.
We are aware we must do more to improve the collection and reporting of ethnicity data in Wales, a point that you clearly flagged to us in a number of your responses to the consultation on the draft Race Equality Action Plan. Hence, we have committed to establishing a Race Disparity Evidence Unit which will provide cross-cutting analytical and policy capacity to improve the collation, availability and use of equalities evidence and drive forward on-the-ground change to tackle evidence-informed inequalities in Wales.
As we developed the plan, many people told us that they didn’t trust how data they provided would be used. We recognise that we must work with ethnic minority people to build confidence for the collection and use of their data.
Among other things, this will involve investigating long-standing problems with data and research across the Welsh Government and the wider public sector in Wales, delivering innovative ways to address ongoing evidence needs relating to equalities and socioeconomic disadvantage. The Race Disparity Evidence Unit will endeavour to value your lived experience as equal to other sources of evidence, and will ensure data is used appropriately to inform impact assessment and policy making.
How will we make sure that this plan does not fail?
We have done further work to help people to hold us to account, and to check whether we are delivering the promises in this plan.
We have worked with partners from ethnic minority communities to develop ‘outcomes’, i.e. what it will look like to reach our ambition of being anti-racist in our services and our workforce.
Below these outcomes we have ‘measurements’ or ‘indicators’. For example, percentages of people satisfied with a service provided, or lived experience reports on whether people are happier with how, complaints in schools, for example, are dealt with than before.
We have used many of your ideas gathered from the past events we held to set the vision, purpose and ‘what good would look like by 2030’. We have used your thoughts to decide which outcomes we would like to see in the 6 areas listed in the preceding chapter. We have summarised them in the full plan.
These outcomes and indicators will not only help us to see if we are moving in the right direction, but will also help external, independent bodies to do the same.
We are also setting up an independent ‘Accountability Group’ to oversee our work. This will mainly consist of ethnic minority people with experience and a deep understanding of institutional racism. The group will include seven experts with lived experience of racism, and expertise in different areas, for example, health, social care, education, employment, refugees and racism. Each expert will be recruited in an open and transparent way. We will look for a spread of expertise, experiences and views.
This independent Accountability Group will be led by Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna, from Cardiff University and Dr Andrew Goodall, Permanent Secretary at the Welsh Government (Wales’ most senior civil servant). It will have regular access to the Minister for Social Justice and the First Minister. Its detailed role is outlined in the full plan.
The First Minister and the Minister for Social Justice have committed to giving this work their highest priority. However, it is also the responsibility of all leaders, at all levels and in all different organisations, to give this their fullest commitment.
We will also have an internal Welsh Government group, called the Internal Challenge and Support Group, which will guide the different departments’ work. Its role will be to ensure that we are ‘joined-up’ and that what we do is clear when it is delivered.
Because we value the conversations we have started to have with ethnic minority communities we will also develop local forums across Wales to help us continue this conversation.
The leadership challenge
The Welsh Government wishes to be a good role model in how it leads this work. We want to use our full influence and power with others who we fund or influence to make radical changes; changes that make measurable differences to the lives of ethnic minority people.
We aim to give a clear message about the importance of meeting the obligations of the Equality Act 2010.
But we also want to go beyond this, to be brave and radical, and to demonstrate anti-racist understanding and behaviour. True leadership requires people to engage in difficult conversations that take on board people’s lived experiences.
In launching this plan we will not shy away from those difficult conversations. As we do this, we will respect and value the leadership and wisdom that exists within ethnic minority communities. We want to do things differently, because we know that if we do what we have always done in the past, we will get the same results that we always had before.
We know that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. By that we mean that if we don’t make significant changes to the ways we do things now, within our organisations, then this plan will not succeed.
It will need significant culture change within the Welsh Government as well as within all public, third and private sector organisations to do things differently. We need to rise to this challenge if we are to change the lives of the people we serve.
The success of this plan will also depend on continually checking progress and on listening to your lived experiences. We want to move forward with your involvement in an open and transparent way.
Here in Wales, we begin with the resolve to take the first steps. Without action nothing changes. Indeed, now we need action, not words.