Sudbury

Workplace racism in Sudbury a problem, study indicates

More needs to be done to address racism in the workplace, the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre says after speaking with workers to determine if they experienced issues on the job.

Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre surveyed workers from various sectors

New research from the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre found 38 per cent of respondents reported experiencing racism in the workplace. Workers from a variety of sectors were surveyed. (CBC)

New research from the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) indicates racism is a problem in some workplaces.

The centre spoke with 121 respondents from a variety of sectors in Greater Sudbury. The initial survey was conducted in June 2021, with more than 20 followup one-on-one interviews in November.

The data found 38 per cent of respondents reported experiencing racism in the workplace.

"This is what workers are having to go through," said Tt Scott, communications officer with SWEAC.

That can make for difficult working situations for employees.

"They are having to deal with this racism, still in effect today, and they are having to put up with it on their own when they're just trying to do their jobs," she said.

The research also found half of respondents were fully aware of their work rights, while 65 per cent said they were satisfied at their place of employment despite dealing with racism.

Scott said the workers surveyed also shared that they deal with racism outside of work as well.

Shared experiences

When asked about their earliest memory of racism in the workplace, one respondent said, "When I worked for the food industry, people would say, 'You brown guys took our jobs', but I haven't taken anyone's job. You know, there are so many jobs out there you have to keep trying where you can."

To protect their privacy and identities, SWEAC has kept the responses anonymous.

When asked how they reacted to racism in the workplace, another respondent said they did not want to make a scene and added ,"I usually just kept my head low."

A respondent said they left one job because the customers were rude and the managers did not do anything to improve the situation. 

But another respondent said their workplace did take some steps to improve things. 

"Yes they ask us and have meetings, they try their best. They cannot do much against some customers immediately but they try, there is definitely room for them to do better do more."

Anti-racism campaign

SWEAC is now planning an anti-racism campaign to raise awareness about the issue.

"Get that in workshops, through participation with different management, with different employers — whatever workers would like to come and get involved," Scott said.

Scott admitted more research is needed. The centre plans to start working to educate and make change in workplaces.

With files from Martha Dillman

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