UK companies have been urged to do more to communicate racial discrimination policies to staff and prepare for new legislation that will extend existing discrimination laws to religious beliefs.
The call follows the case of Palestinian Khalid Jayyosi who was unfairly made redundant and suffered a torrent of racist abuse from colleagues in the IT department at DaimlerChrysler.
Diane Sinclair, lead advisor on public policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, said companies risked unlimited fines if found not to be adhering to the legislation.
Sinclair said senior IT chiefs are responsible for ensuring that all staff are aware of a company's sex and racial discrimination policies and the consequences of not abiding by them. These policies need to be communicated to staff regularly and line managers should be trained to deal with such behaviour if it occurs.
Sinclair also recommended using cross-departmental and cross-functional teams to reduce the risk of IT departments becoming isolated from the rest of the business and developing a culture that tolerates racial abuse.
New legislation, due to come into effect in December, will extend workplace discrimination legislation to religion and beliefs, she said.
Christopher Young, managing director of Impact, a personal development organisation for senior IT executives, said the recent DaimlerChrysler case was "unbelievably appalling" and any staff who knew about Jayyosi's situation were partly responsible.
For Young, Jayyosi's experience highlighted a lack of leadership "both organisational and personal", but he said he believed the case was "pretty unique".
- Have you witnessed or suffered racial abuse or discrimination in your IT department? E-mail in confidence to [email protected]