• Tar Tumber
  • 10 July 2018

Red hair…don’t care!

I was talking to a fellow Mum in the school playground earlier this week, when she casually mentioned that her flame haired daughter, who is currently in her first year at secondary school, had been the subject of nasty comments due to her being ‘a ginger’.

The Mum went on to say that on one occasion, she had been with her daughter when some older kids at the school had made derogatory comments, seemingly not bothered that an adult was also present.  Needless to say, the Mum was shocked at what she was witnessing.  It transpired that her daughter had heard a number of comments throughout the academic year but just let it pass as she was ‘just used to it’.   

Thankfully, the Mum felt strongly about the discrimination her daughter was suffering as a result of having ginger hair, and has raised the matter with the school.  She referred back to the Equality Act 2010 and, whilst hair colour isn’t identified as one of the ‘protected characteristics’ under the Act, she has put to them that this treatment could be racially motivated, as her daughter is of Celtic origin.  She is waiting to see how the school responds.

Sadly, a lot of people just put up with verbal abuse or discrimination, because they ‘get used to it’.  Unfortunately, this seems to apply whenever someone is perceived as being ‘different’ to the ‘majority’.  A very recent report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary highlighted significant problems faced by the Police in responding to hate crime.  The report, dated 19 July 2018, details the increase in hate crime across the UK, with a spokesperson for Amnesty International stating that every year, thousands upon thousands of people are attacked just because they are ‘perceived as being different’.  Amnesty International is calling for the police to undergo more training when dealing with hate crimes.

This leads me to another discrimination case which has just been reported (17 July 2018) where a transgender van driver is suing for discrimination on the grounds of her gender reassignment. Hayley, formerly Stanley Hayley, worked with London based Gnewt Cargo, where her duties included loading parcels into her van and delivering them across central London.  The company deems her self employed; she argues that she is either an employee or at the very least, a worker.  In any case, she cites several examples of bullying and harassment by Gnewt Cargo – allowing others to laugh at her; overloading her bay with boxes; tampering with her bike wheels.  She puts this down to her gender reassignment.  We will wait to see how far this case progresses as Hayley needs to establish her employment status first.

I can count hundreds of discrimination cases I have come across whilst working in HR, and it still gets me how those who discriminate either think it’s right or are ignorant to the fact that they are doing anything wrong!  Going back to the school scenario, I feel for the girl as she has no choice in her natural hair colour; just as countless others have no choice in their skin colour, disability, race, appearance, accent, etc etc…the list just goes on.  Despite efforts to educate children to embrace diversity and understand that it’s ok to be ‘different’, they can still be so mean to each other.  So, it’s vitally important that adults lead by example – at home and back in the workplace.  If we teach them young, hopefully they will grow old together!  

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