Ethnic minorities face hostility at work: poll

A charity focused on inclusivity on Saturday urged the government and employers to set up mentorship programmes for ethnic minorities, after a majority of respondents to its survey said they had faced hostile or unfriendly treatment at the workplace.

The NGO, Treats, surveyed nearly 140 ethnic minority adults in Hong Kong, and 40 percent of the respondents reported being treated with unreasonable hostility at work.

The respondents also said they faced unfriendly remarks over their race, culture and outfits, with one saying she was asked not to “frighten people” after her boss in a five-star hotel banned her from wearing a hijab.

Apart from discrimination, many of those polled reported of a lack of job and promotion opportunities, with more than 30 percent saying that they had experience of not being interviewed despite fulfilling all the requirements in a job opening.

“Most of the Hong Kong people have many misunderstandings and stereotyping of our ethnic minorities friends,” said Mable Lo, the head of service at Treats.

The organisation also polled more than 600 Chinese locals and found that more than a fifth of them said it was normal for Hong Kong employers not to hire ethnic minorities.

A small portion of the Chinese locals polled even said ethnic minorities should not live in Hong Kong because of their vastly different culture and habits.

Lo noted that the government has different programmes to support ethnic minorities, but more should be done.

“Our organisation found that it is very important to break their stereotyping by some direct contact,” she said.

“Therefore we have some mentorship schemes, the schemes can provide them more chances to have more direct contact before they really enter the job market.”

Treats also called on businesses to set up more inclusive policies and recommended the government work with NGOs to provide seminars, workshops and media campaigns for employers to better understand ethnic minorities.