Race Relations Officer
Despite vast improvements in recent times, racial abuse and discrimination are still evident in the UK. Even Premier League footballers Luis Suarez and John Terry became embroiled in racist incidents recently. Clearly, there is a long way to go before racism is completely stamped out of British society. This is where race relations officers come in!
Employed by government organisations, charities, local authorities, prison services, housing associations, the police force, and the NHS, race relations officers are given the responsibility of campaigning for racial equality and implementing schemes which are designed to make sure racial discrimination is combated in different areas of society.
Essentially, race relations officers use their up-to-date knowledge of equality and diversity policy to bring about change; conducting research, raising awareness of equality and diversity issues, and developing strategies to reduce racial incidents in communities, institutions and workplaces.
With such a diverse range of responsibilities, race relations officers are community workers, consultants, policy-makers and project managers all rolled into one. They provide direct support to people affected by racial discrimination; they build relationships with professional bodies and other relevant organisations; and they help companies to make sure their recruitment policies comply with anti-discriminatory legislation.
Equality and diversity officer: Job description
Equality and diversity officers work with different equality strands such as gender, race, disability, age, religion and sexual orientation. They work to develop and promote good relations and practices towards these minority groups. This may include community work supporting people who experience some form of discrimination and delivering diversity workshops to communities, staff and volunteers. Many roles also involve the development, monitoring and review of policies and strategies designed to ensure organisations, staff and stakeholders engage with legislative duties.
Equality and diversity officers also ensure that everyone has equal access to services and they aim to stop any negative attitudes. In major companies, officers may specialise in one particular area such as disability or race relations while those in smaller organisations may work across a range of strands.
Typical work activities
The work carried out by equality and diversity officers may differ slightly depending on the area that they specialise in, but in general typical activities are likely to include the following:
* researching, applying and promoting diversity initiatives and sharing best practice;
* providing advice, guidance and support on equality and diversity issues;
* assessing community needs and promoting community cohesion;
* promoting changes within organisations and the wider community;
* developing systems for reporting any incidents of discrimination;
* liaising with community groups and other relevant organisations, e.g. police, local councils, NHS trusts;
* raising awareness in schools, colleges and the wider community;
* dealing with conflict within the community or the workplace;
* interacting with people at all levels and from a wide variety of backgrounds;
* responding to complaints and providing information on options for complainants;
* maintaining an up-to-date knowledge of anti-discriminatory legislation;
* translating equality legislation into practice to ensure organisations meet statutory requirements;
* ensuring Equality Impact Assessments are carried out;
* devising and implementing a Single Equality Scheme;
* writing, implementing and reviewing policy at corporate and service level to embed within wider strategic plans;
* setting targets and/or action plans and monitoring progress;
* demonstrating and publishing how statutory requirements are being met;
* presenting reports and recommendations;
* developing links with key professional bodies;
* representing the organisation on regional and national forums and working groups;
* overseeing and monitoring staff recruitment and staff development;
* preparing and delivering presentations and workshops to staff, stakeholders and partner organisations;
* training, managing and coordinating the work of volunteer staff.
Race relations worker job description: Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills
Responsibilities of the job include:
* maintaining records and information systems
* advising about the effects of discrimination
* compiling statistics
* acting as an advocate for members of ethnic minority groups
* presenting the needs of ethnic minority individuals/groups
* promoting change
* preparing/distributing publicity materials and displays
* interpreting legislation
* preparing/making presentations
* researching cases.
Referral and liaison with other relevant organisations (such as community groups) are key features of the work.
Typical employers of race relations workers
* the Equality and Human Rights Commission
* professional associations
* The Law Society
* local authorities
* trade unions
* the Civil Service.
Most people enter and remain within the profession on short/fixed-term contracts. Vacancies are advertised in local, regional and national newspapers, Adviser Magazine, The Voice newspaper, Asian Times, the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB) mailings and the Federation of Independent Advice Centres' fortnightly job lists. Speculative approaches to employers are advisable, particularly for work experience placements.
Qualifications and training required
Personality and relevant experience are usually more important than qualifications, although an undergraduate/postgraduate degree in law, psychology, business, management, education, social/community work, public administration or sociology/social sciences can be helpful.
Previous relevant work experience is essential prior to entry into the profession. This can be gained by helping in a local advice centre, citizens advice bureau or students' union welfare office. Many race relations workers enter the profession following a career in teaching, law, social work, housing, welfare rights, health or youth/community work.
Key skills for race relations workers
* good listening skills
* verbal skills
* written communication skills