Race an issue in discipline policy

Staff from ethnic minorities are not being treated fairly in the
disciplinary process, research by the Institute of Employment Studies has

Ethnic background was found to be "a powerful influence" on
managers deciding whether or not to use formal disciplinary procedures, the
study of eight London councils found.

This was despite the departments having a strong commitment to equal
opportunities and a good record for employing ethnic minority staff.

Managers interviewed for the research for the Greater London Employers’
Association either avoided using formal disciplinary procedures with black and
Asian staff, in an effort to appear fair, or used them too readily in an
attempt to "cover their backs" by putting everything on the record.

In the first case, ethnic minority employees suffered by being denied
feedback on their behaviour. In the second they suffered from having more
incidents on their records than white staff.

The study found that a lack of clarity about what constitutes poor
performance and when to use disciplinary action made managers nervous.

Managers also commented on the "political sensitivities"
surrounding race, particularly in relation to disciplinary action. They also
felt they were not always supported from above.

The IES recommends that boroughs "concentrate on developing and
communicating clear guidance on acceptable standards of behaviour and

• The Devolved Personnel Assessment Processes report is available from GLEA:
020-7834 8288.

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