Anti-racist education, Goldman Sachs’ work culture, dropping BAME

Authors: Kate Savin, Liam Clifford, Jece Shunmugam
  • Reading time: 4 min.
  • Posted on: March 30, 2021

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad, and the one to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting more diverse education in the UK, Goldman Sachs’ terrible culture and calls to scrap the term ‘BAME’.

| NAILED IT: Schools sign up for anti-racist curriculum

Hundreds of schools around England are rejecting the traditional curriculum  and taking voluntary steps to reflect Britain’s colonial history in children’s learning.

In the wake of the Windrush scandal in which hundreds of Black Carribean Britons were wrongly detained and denied their rights,  and the global spotlight on racial inequalities after the murder of George Floyd, there has been a huge swell of demand from young people for more inclusive curriculums.

Many call for an education system that properly educates children about colonialism and that celebrates the achievements of Black and other minority communities in the United Kingdom.

So far, more than 660 schools have signed up to The Diverse Curriculum: The Black Contribution, created by Hackney council staff and teachers. It provides 5–14 year olds with lessons that cover the Windrush generation, activism, British identity and diversity in the arts and science.

It isn’t the only programme making headlines; similar campaigns are forming across the country. The Black Curriculum recently partnered with Camden council, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Manchester MP Afzal Khan to launch programmes that will diversify education in over a thousand schools.

It’s heartwarming to see that desire for better education being led by young people — and that in the distinct lack of any UK government-led changes, communities have been ready to step in and fill the gap. In Scotland and Wales, leaders have already committed to reviewing their existing school curriculums. Hopefully, the success of programmes like these can act as a wake-up call for those in power — a more inclusive education system is key for a more inclusive future.

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: The Goldman Sachs deck that called out its terrible culture

Last week an internal survey was leaked by a first year hgynGoldman Sachs employee, detailing inhumane working conditions at the financial services company. 

The survey revealed shocking results: on average, respondents work 105 hours a week. 100% reported the job had negatively impacted their relationships, and their mental and physical health had crashed across the board.

Whilst the national campaign for a 4 day week grows, and the pandemic has proven we don’t need to be chained to our office desks for companies to survive, Goldman Sachs remains entrenched in an outdated and damaging work culture.

Most people know that going into banking means you’re giving up a normal life in return for incredibly high salaries, and working at Goldman Sachs is not the same as working in an illegal garment factory in Leicester – junior bankers can expect to earn a base salary of £50,000. But when their 18-hour shifts and regular six-day work weeks are taken into account, that base salary whittles down to roughly £8.90 per hour, less than the London Living Wage of £10.85. It’s also a career that can end in tragedy, as highlighted by the suicide of 22-year-old Sarvshreshth Gupta in 2015. He’d complained to his father of working 100 hours weeks and had worked through the night before his death due to pressure from his managers.

Regardless of whether the financial rewards are high and the extreme expectations well known, Goldman Sachs is still knowingly fuelling a deadly work culture. This cannot continue to be acceptable – change is needed. 

| ONE TO WATCH: Calls to scrap BAME amplify

Boris Johnson’s racial disparities commission  is set to recommend that the term BAME should be put out of use  by public bodies and companies. BAME stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic, and originated in the 1970s as a way for the anti-racist movement to join together and fight against discrimination. 

In recent years, the term has become a catch-all phrase used in the UK to collate information and data on ethnic minorities, typically anyone with heritage outside of Europe. The term has been used to monitor progress (or lack thereof) for equality in the UK, but its blanket use by companies in place of being explicit about the community being referred to has aggravated many race equality advocates, not least because it has become increasingly useless as the UK has become more diverse.

While many welcome the recommendation, others are pointing out the hypocrisy of the groups calling to scrap the term but perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes and generalisations. When publications with terrible track records on race and inequalities such as The Sun release a statement axing the term for being offensive, it begs the question that an over-focus on the term is a tactic to avoid putting any tangible actions in place to tackle inequalities at hand.  

So changing and removing the term BAME will not be enough. As Kuba Shand-Baptiste remarks, it will not change the issue at hand:

“the temptation of continuing to generalise issues among varying communities of colour in the UK is strong – especially as few members of these groups are in positions to challenge errors in the first place.”

Let’s ensure that scrapping the term is not simply a front to hide behind. The recommendations to combat structural inequalities and racism exist, from the Windrush report recommending a full review of the hostile environment immigration policy to The Lammy Report calling for better representation in the judiciary. It’s time we enact them.