• Saturday, June 22, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Racism and bullying widespread in Cabinet Office, leaked report reveals

The review finds 10 per cent of the staff experienced bullying and harassment

Representative image (iStock)

By: easterneye.biz Staff

The Cabinet Office, dominated by people with “posh” London accents, is accused of being institutionally racist with perpetrators going unpunished, according to an internal review.

The leaked report, which revealed that 10 per cent of the 10,000-strong staff experienced bullying and harassment, comes amid calls for a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination of any kind.

The review, comprising dozens of interviews, focus groups and surveys, said non-white civil servants had a sense of being alienated and that they had to “work harder to be respected and understood”.

According to it, the dominance of “posh” people could lead employees from other socio-economic backgrounds to feel as if they were “outsiders” and make them “self-conscious about the way they speak”.

Ethnic minority staff also “described feeling as if they had to sometimes change their behaviour to fit in,” the review seen by the BBC revealed.

“This included changes to how they speak and present themselves to be less like their own identity or the communities they come from,” it said.

Some members of the staff said they felt “like they did not belong” when they were lone ethnic minority individuals in the offices.

“We have to be a certain way in order for people around us to perceive us as being just as valid as someone who went to Oxbridge”, an employee was quoted as saying in the report.

The review was commissioned in October last year after the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) representing civil servants demanded an overhaul of the system.

It was not the first time that the Cabinet Office found itself amid allegations of discrimination.

A survey conducted in 2021 found that it had the joint highest rate of bullying and harassment among all government departments and the third highest rate of discrimination.

It said just 37 per cent of those who experienced bullying or harassment in the previous 12 months reported such incidents, while others chose to remain silent for the fear of possible negative impacts their complaints would have on their careers.

The Cabinet Office asserted that it would not tolerate bullying, harassment or discrimination in any form.

Its spokesperson told the BBC that the department would fully implement recommendations in the report by “prioritising actions that will have the greatest immediate impact.”

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