Black Disabled Workers’ Professional Development and Activism

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2018 National Disabled Members' Conference
6 July 2018
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that racism in the workplace persists and that Black workers are less likely to access professional development and training. They are also less likely to win promotion as a result, and consequently Black workers are often over-represented in lower paid grades, affecting workforce diversity patterns. Where a worker is also disabled this discrimination is exacerbated and access to the career ladder is often closed off completely. Despite some employers collecting data on Black career progression this is often just lip service with no robust action taken to tackle the issue.

Whilst combating racism and disablism is clearly the answer to these problems, creating pathways to professional development for Black disabled workers is one way of employers addressing the issue. Specific training events for Black disabled workers that focus on breaking through the barriers have been proven to have had success, as has the establishment of Black and disabled role model programmes. Branch negotiators and Equality Officers should be encouraged to include this as a bargaining objective with employers.

Within UNISON there is also an issue of Black disabled activism often going untapped. Conference notes the national disabled members contacts and officers training pilot run by Learning And Organising Services (LAOS) and planned for September and hopes this will encourage Black disabled activists to come forward. UNISON training must be fully inclusive of Black disabled activists if we are not to lose out on their talent when it comes to Branch Secretaries and other roles in the union.

For Black disabled women, sexism and misogyny in society and the workplace is a further barrier to career progression and to developing their activism within UNISON that needs to be addressed.

Conference therefore calls on the National Disabled Members committee to:

1.Work with the National Black Members Committee to consider how pathways to professional development and promotion and the creation of role models for Black disabled workers including Black disabled women workers can be encouraged in employers

2.Consider how Black disabled activists including Black disabled women activists can be further developed and encouraged in UNISON and through our self organised group including liaising with regions and branches on ways of achieving this

3.Work with LAOS to review existing training materials to ensure inclusivity of Black disabled members and activists.