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Toolbox Talk: Anti-Racism

Max People Health & Safety Bulletin


Race: is a prohibited ground of discrimination in New Zealand

Racial Discrimination: illegal expression of racism. Any action, intentional or not, that has the effect of singling out people based on their race. Can often be very subtle, such as being assigned to less desirable jobs.

Racism: is a broader experience and practice than racial discrimination. Racism is a belief that one group is superior to others. Racism operates at several levels, in particular, individual, systemic and societal.

Racism can be:

Verbal: openly displayed in racial jokes and slurs

Environmental: posting derogatory posters or hate crimes such as hanging nooses on job sites

Unconscious: more deeply rooted in attitudes, values, and stereotypical beliefs.

Discussion Points:

Unfortunately, racism and racial discrimination remain a reality in society and on construction sites. We must acknowledge this fact as a starting point to effectively address racism and racial discrimination and this is why we are discussing it today.

Racism and racial discrimination negatively impact workers and the work environment.

  • It can damage people’s physical and mental health.
  • It can decrease productivity and undermine the workplace culture.
  • It can have a negative impact on work relationships.
  • It can have a negative impact on the business financially (lost productivity, work disruptions) and on their reputation with clients, employees and the public.

You cannot always control the behaviour of others, but you can control your own behaviour. Racism cannot and will not be tolerated on our sites and facilities and we owe it to ourselves, co-workers, our organizations, our industry and our community to do our part.

We all must be accountable, and part of our accountability is to have these uncomfortable conversations; to be willing to work through the discomfort; and to be open to discuss and deal with this issue. Part of our accountability is to be in this together.

We must

  • Acknowledge that racism exists.
  • Get involved with organizations that are fighting it.
  • Elect and appoint leaders who won't support structurally racist policies.
  • Demand fundamental change from institutions in our own lives
  • Talk about it more.



See it - Say it - Stop it.

If you see or experience racism in the workplace, whether in a policy, action or behaviour, not acting is not good enough.

Do not let it continue.

  • Speak up about it in a respectful manner.

Do not ignore racial jokes or slurs.

  • Let it be known that you don’t agree with the context or content, and that this behaviour is not acceptable in our workplace or anywhere else.
  • If it does not feel safe to address the racism yourself, immediately bring the issue to your supervisor for discussion.
  • If you notice that a policy, procedure or method of doing business is rooted in racism (has an adverse impact, whether intended or not, on any identifiable race or other ground) bring it to the attention of management for discussion and resolution.