How to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities at work

June recognises Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month. Here we learn more about these communities and why it is important they are understood and supported in the workplace.

Continue reading to find out more.

Who are the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities?

The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities hold strong cultural values that have an emphasis on the extended family. Their nomadic way of life has a rich heritage, with Irish Travellers being traced to the 12th century.

It is thought that their nomadic way of life contributes to the GRT community being one of the most socially excluded in the UK, as it causes society to discriminate and judge a way of life it does not understand.

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are protected against race discrimination under the Equality Act, because they are members of ethnic groups. Not all gypsy and traveller groups are recognised as ethnic groups, so are not protected by the Equality Act at the moment.

Although Gypsies, Romas and Travellers are often referred to as one community, many different cultures are included within this:

  • Romany Gypsies
  • Scottish Gypsy Travellers
  • Irish Travellers
  • Roma
  • Show People

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the workplace

An awareness and understanding of the GRT community is important for employers because your organisation may work with people from these communities in a public facing role and you may have employees with GRT heritage.

Many people from GRT communities now live in brick and mortar homes. This does not change how they identify with their GRT identity and heritage.

You can learn more about what employers need to consider in order to support and understand GRT communities in our Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month factsheet.

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and social exclusion

Social exclusion can affect anyone; however, it is frequently associated with certain communities. Social exclusion occurs when people are denied access to certain resources and are actively excluded from society. The Equality and Human Rights Commission identified these communities as UK’s four most disadvantaged groups:

  • Gypsies, Roma and Travellers
  • Homeless people
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

What is social exclusion?

Simply put, social exclusion is when certain groups, people and communities are not treated equally in society. Social exclusion can often be referred to as marginalisation.

This can impact a variety of things, to name a few: rights, laws, access to education, services and job roles.

People who are socially excluded are treated unfairly and are denied access to things that many people have easy access to. It is an example of discrimination, which is commonly based on stereotypes and unconscious bias.

How to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the workplace

The workplace is where many of us spend the majority of our time – and where people require support. 

Take a look at the tips below to see how you can support all socially excluded communities in the workplace, including GRT communities.

Treat everyone equally

Treating everyone equally is one of the simplest and most obvious suggestions. It is critical to treat everyone fairly and equally, regardless of their background.

Create safe spaces

Make sure your workplace is a welcoming environment for people from all walks of life. People will feel more welcomed and at ease in admitting any issues they are having, as well as any additional support they may require, if your workplace is safe.

Have policies in place

Policies are a must-have for any inclusive workplace. Make sure you have policies in place, from the recruitment phase to the time they leave your company.

Recruitment policies will ensure that you are fair and not discriminatory throughout the process. Consider developing programmes for those who have experienced social exclusion.

Ensure all employees have training

By putting the appropriate training in place, employees will gain a greater understanding of the effects of exclusion and the impact it has on excluded groups of people.

Be aware of unconscious bias

Unconscious bias can play a huge part in social exclusion and, as is in the name, people do not even know they are doing it or thinking in this way.

By making yourself and organisation aware of unconscious bias, you will become more aware and able to stop or interrupt those types of thoughts.

If you are a member of Inclusive Employers you can read more key considersations for GRT inclusion in our factsheet.

How can Inclusive Employers support you to ensure everyone is included

Here at Inclusive Employers, we want to help organisations focus on social inclusion and help your team be inclusive of everyone – no matter their background or status

If you’re a member, speak to your account manager about social exclusion awareness training and more. If you’re not a member, get in touch today to see how we can help.