Ryanair racism incident highlights need for unconscious bias training
24th October 2018
Video footage was released this week that shows a Ryanair passenger unleash a torrent of racist abuse towards an elderly woman sitting next to him.
The video shows a white man directing horrific bile towards a black woman as other passengers board the plane from Barcelona to London Stansted.
Reports have said that Ryanair staff froze when hearing the racism and took little action at first, which has resulted in negative PR for the airline.
The lack of training and authority that staff feel when confronted with these sorts of scenarios can be damaging for companies. Volume businesses like Ryanair that are operating on slim margins can hardly afford such losses that occur from negative incidents like these.
What should customer service staff do in a situation where racism occurs? And how can organisations ensure their staff are prepared for these kind of divisive incidents?
For training to be effective, an awareness of and focus on diversity must be a part of a company’s culture in all aspects.
For example, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 cafes across the US earlier this year to conduct unconscious bias training.
The move came as the coffee shop chain tried to restore its positive PR image after a cafe manager in Philadelphia called the police to arrest two black men who were waiting for a friend.
Although the initial incident was damaging, Starbucks received positive PR for their reaction to the racism incident.
By actually shutting their stores for unconscious bias training, Starbucks showed they were prepared to take a financial loss in order to do the training properly.
This shows that equality and diversity messages must be reinforced regularly and managers must train their staff when they see behaviours and attitudes that contradict a diverse and inclusive environment.