New anti-racism and discrimination guidance published by the AOP

The guidance includes advice for employers and employees, as well as details of specific AOP contacts for those experiencing discrimination

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The AOP has released new guidance on tackling racism and other forms of discrimination at work.

The guidance includes information for both employers and employees in dealing with incidents that may arise within practice environments.

A new Anti-racism and equality team (ARET) has been created, with AOP staff from the clinical and regulatory team taking on a role that will see them available to speak to members about issues that they might be experiencing.

The AOP has also created resources that can be used to highlight the message of respect both within practices and online, including printable posters and digital banners for social media. Practices are encouraged to add their own logo to the posters.

The new pages also include a guide to the laws and regulations that protect those working in optical practices from discrimination.

Roshni Kanabar, clinical advisor at the AOP and one of the new ARET team members, said: “I am looking forward to being able to support members and provide them with an empathetic ear to discuss their concerns.

“Racism is a serious topic and I am glad that the recent turn of events has shed some light and allowed our members to speak up on the racial discrimination that they regularly face in practice.

“I am hoping that with our influence at the AOP, we can work with companies to put procedures in place to support our members to tackle racism head on and promote equality.”

The guidance was created after work by optometrist Hamza Mussa revealed a high level of racism being experienced by those working within the profession.

Mr Mussa used his Instagram platform, @TheCrazyOptom, to investigate the issue. He found that 82% of respondents had experienced racism within practice, with 81% saying the patient had still been seen and only 19% reporting a zero-tolerance approach being taken.

Mr Mussa, along with AOP member Naveed Butt, has been working with the AOP to create the new guidance.

Henrietta Alderman, AOP chief executive, said: “The AOP is committed to supporting our members if they are subject to abuse, harassment or discrimination, and helping employers to create safe working environments.

“The AOP is grateful to the members who have contributed information and ideas to this work, including Hamza Mussa, and Naveed Butt and his colleagues, whose ideas led to the creation of the Anti-racism and equality team.”

The AOP also recently ran a webinar for members that focused on identifying and tackling unconscious bias within practice, a recording of which can be viewed on the website.

The Anti-racism and equality team can be contacted at [email protected] Those looking for advice on specific situations can contact the AOP legal team on [email protected].

Members with suggestions on how the AOP’s anti-racism and discrimination resources can be built upon or added to are encouraged to get in contact with [email protected]

Visit the tackling racism and discrimination at work pages on the AOP site.