Antiracism, the environment and English UK: an update
1 March 2022

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Antiracism, the environment and English UK: an update 

English UK and our board of trustees are to build a better industry as we recover from the pandemic, and as part of that we have published plans for antiracism and the environment 

We are currently planning a survey to inform our environmental work, which we hope to share with members in early April.  

We have made steady progress on our antiracism plan. An early draft of our survey of staff and the ELT community on their experiences of racism and discrimination has been shared with the action group, which came up with an initial five objectives for us.  

Antiracism: our five objectives for 2022 

  • Provide training for members and UK ELT industry. Topics could include dealing with incidents, raising awareness and tackling unconscious bias. Training could be in formats including conference sessions, guidelines, tools for centres to use, webinars or paid training.
  • Create guidelines for diversity in marketing which would inform the language and visuals used in our materials and be shared with members as a suggested template.
  • Use the English UK platform to promote diversity by celebrating black people and people of colour within the industry, diversifying speakers and trainers at our events, making antiracism and diversity central at our conferences and using social media platforms to promote diversity within our industry.
  • Facilitate a networking group for people of colour in UK ELT, enabling mentorship and networking across roles, giving the opportunity to discuss racism in the industry and get support, and ask for feedback to English UK and the antiracism action group.
  • Promote the UK ELT industry as an opportunity to increase visibility and recruitment. The group discussion noted that ELT is not widely known to a diverse range of people, which contributes to a lack of diversity. This is a long-term project and so it is vital the industry can be promoted as a safe and welcoming place to black people and people of colour. 

We have begun considering how to address these issues and will update the action group at their next meeting in March. The group also had interesting ideas on what success might look like and what they want us to achieve, in the context of English UK, the membership and the wider industry. These included tackling unconscious bias, education for everyone including students and agents and working with other educational organisations. 

What did the antiracism survey find? 

The survey has taken longer than anticipated to get into a publishable form which fairly represents everyone's views. We've learned a lot from the process which will be useful for us in future. 

We hope to share the survey with members in early spring, but here are some headline points:  

  • Most respondents were not very or not at all concerned about racism or other forms of discrimination at their ELT organisations (86 and 81%). Three-quarters had rarely or never experienced or seen discrimination in UK ELT and nobody reported any form of discrimination as frequent in their workplace. Over two thirds thought discrimination and prejudice are taken seriously in our sector.

  • In other positive findings, 95% thought people from all cultures, backgrounds and ages are respected and valued in their ELT organisation, with almost as many believing "overt" or "extreme" racism would be addressed at their organisation and 90% feeling safe there. 80% thought their organisation was committed to antiracism.  

  • Working conditions appeared to be broadly welcome as well: 82% thought their work and ideas were recognised and credited, 74% that recruitment was fair and transparent, and 78% say being their authentic self is not a disadvantage to their career. 

There were also less positive findings 

  • Almost half of the survey respondents were concerned about racism or xenophobia in UK ELT, with 45% concerned about other types of discrimination. Almost 40% had heard or seen prejudiced language, opinions or behaviour in their work, with almost 30% thinking racism was "not on the agenda" in UK ELT. 

  • Almost half of the survey sample agreed that "native" speakers are more respected in the sector, saying they have often been asked for a more "British" homestay host, teacher or other member of staff. This was reported as the most common form of discrimination in UK ELT in this survey.  

  • Non-native speakers were likelier to feel left out, unsafe, or "the only one" and feel their work isn't credited or their opinions valued. They were twice as likely to to have heard or seen prejudiced language or behaviour in UK ELT and almost half thought teachers, hosts and other ELT workers are racialised and stereotyped.  

  • Sexism was the second most common type of discrimination reported in UK ELT: 36% of all respondents and almost half of women said it happened. A quarter of women think there is bias or discrimination in their workplace, and almost two thirds do not agree that staff are treated equally. Over half of men but under a third of women thought teaching materials reflect diverse people and lives.  

  • Over 80% said they have rarely or never witnessed or experienced homophobia but lesbian, gay or bisexual people are twice as likely to think being their authentic selves was a career disadvantage. Over a quarter of gay, lesbian or bisexual people feel "like the only one," double the figure for heterosexual colleagues, and they are also less likely to think their opinion is listened to or that they could be themselves at work.  

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