Africa News Bulletin

Kenya: British Council finds no racism against Kenyan workers

The British Council has concluded an investigation into allegations of racism and discrimination against current and past Kenyan workers at the British Council-Kenya office.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the British Council said the probe found no evidence of racial discrimination, bullying, or harassment as complaints raised against staff members could not be substantiated.

“In the course of the investigative process, the British Council identified opportunities for improvement of its operations in Kenya,” the statement read.

These improvements include the process for handling complaints, the management of staff performance and the management of redundancy processes.

“We will continue to learn lessons through open and honest appraisal and following this investigative process, we will look to strengthen our processes and training.”

Equal opportunity employer
The organisation said that it is proud to be an equal opportunities employer and draws its employees, including senior management, from within its country of operation.

“All the employees in our Kenya operation, with the exception of one individual, are Kenyan nationals, including five out of six members of the leadership team,” the statement added.

Last month, a British Council spokesperson said the agency and Kenyan authorities had received an anonymous letter in July 2021 and it responded by initiating an investigation in August 2021.

“The British Council takes all allegations of discrimination, racism, bullying and harassment very seriously. We operate in over 100 countries across the world and our values of equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do,” the spokesperson said.

The letter alleged that senior white executives discriminated against the accusers, predominantly as they were selected and assessed for redundancy.

“The cases underline a repeated practice by white members of staff to constantly assign Kenyans as underperformers, inadequate, unskilled, unprofessional, and suspects as the organization abuses its procedures and systems to validate its discriminative practice,” the letter read.

‘Complaints ignored’
The complainants further alleged that attempts to air their grievances to the organisation’s human resource department were also ignored, forcing some of them to either resign or drop the complaints altogether.

The complainants who claimed to have been victims of racism said they would not cooperate with the investigations.

They alleged that they were targeted unfairly in a systemic display of impunity by privileged senior managers of the cultural relations organisation.

They claimed that the British Council wanted to engage in a PR exercise because they wanted to select the type of cases to be investigated and the type of evidence to be provided.

“So we told them they either investigate all or none. Also, we have evidence such as audio recordings but they say that will not be considered as evidence,” an email sent to a Nation reporter said.

The organisation insisted on following its own policies to investigate the complaints.

Five of the seven accusers claimed they were discriminated against during a redundancy process that they said favoured white colleagues. The allegations come amid cuts in central government funding for the British Council and a shortfall in income related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Original story on Nation

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