British Council probes racism claims against Kenyan staff

British Council probes racism claims against Kenyan staff

  • A letter sent to the British Council and Kenyan Authorities by 7 Kenyan-born complainants, triggered the investigations after it alleged that senior white executives discriminated against the accusers.
  • The letter similarly claims that efforts to air the complainants’ grievances to the organization’s HR department were also ignored.

The British Council is investigating allegations of racism and discrimination against past and current Kenyan staff at the cultural relations organization.

A letter reportedly sent to the British Council and Kenyan Authorities in July 2021, by 7 Kenyan-born complainants, triggered the investigations after it 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 organisation abuses its procedures and systems to validate its discriminative practice,” the letter is quoted as saying by the Guardian Newspaper.

The letter similarly claims that efforts to air the complainants’ grievances to the organization’s HR department were also ignored, forcing some of them to either resign or drop the complaints altogether.  

Though the 1934-founded Council makes 85 percent of its income mainly from teaching and examinations, it also receives funding from the British government. Reduced business owing to the COVID-19 pandemic has however greatly affected its earnings sparking talks of job cuts.

The Council has since asserted that it takes such claims seriously and it has asked the accusers to come forward with evidence and help in the ongoing probe. Some of the accusers are however not confident in the Council’s ability to address the matter.

“The British Council says it will only investigate these allegations if we allow them to manage the complaints process and select the cases to be investigated. But many former and current employees believe that there is a racist culture in the organisation which goes back many years. White people’s opinions are given more weight than black people from Kenya,” Apollo Edewa, 33, a former programme manager at the office in Nairobi for five years until February told the Guardian Newspaper. 

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