Human resources failings lead to race discrimination claims from Commission for Racial Equality staff

HR failings at the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) meant the race watchdog faced a series of damaging race discrimination claims from its own staff, it has been revealed.

An independent report by the Public Interest Research Unit (PIRU) found that the CRE, formerly chaired by equalities tsar Trevor Phillips, consistently failed over the past six years to comply with the race laws it was supposed to uphold.

The report’s author, Rupert Harwood, called for Phillips to carry out a review of how HR is conducted at the new, all-powerful Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

Phillips now chairs the CEHR, which replaced the CRE, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission.

Harwood told Personnel Today: “One of the biggest problems at the CRE was the way the employment function operated. HR relationships across the CRE were not good. I got the impression the CRE was not a happy place to work. Race discrimination was just one aspect.”

The report revealed that the CRE did not carry out a single race equality impact assessment on an employment policy between April 2001 and June 2007.

More than 22 policies were deemed to require such an assessment, meaning the CRE had a 0% compliance with the Race Equality Duty. As a result, it is understood the CRE was forced to make out-of-court settlements with several staff who complained of racial discrimination.

Phillips chaired the CRE for about three-and-a-half years to December 2006, when he took up his position at the CEHR. Although 50% of CRE staff followed Phillips to the new body, not one of these was from the HR department.

The CEHR insisted it had carried out full equality impact assessments on all its “HR products”. The CRE declined to comment on the report.

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