'No coloured immigrants' | Queen & Buckingham Palace at centre of equality & hiring revelations

Queen & Buckingham Palace at centre of equality & hiring revelations

The Queen and Buckingham Palace have found themselves at the centre of what could be an explosive row over what is the ‘bread and butter’ of most modern HR departments.

According to Guardian reporting, the Queen’s courtiers reportedly banned “coloured immigrants or foreigners” from being recruited into clerical positions in Buckingham Palace until at least the 1960s, documents from The National Archives have suggested.

It is also suggested, in what may shock current practitioners, that, according to reports, the Queen remains exempt from specific equality laws which protect from discrimination at work.

Shocking revelations

Within these revelations, recently discovered documents reportedly show how in 1968, a senior official at the palace told civil servants “it was not, in fact, the practice to appoint coloured migrants or foreigners” to any role above that of domestic servant.

In addition to this, the publication reported that 1960s equality legislation, to help curb employment discrimination on both the grounds of race or ethnicity, does not apply to the Queen and has not for more than four decades.

According to the Guardian: “The exemption has made it impossible for women or people from ethnic minorities working for her household to complain to the courts if they believe they have been discriminated against.”

Additionally, these new documents showcase how Government officials confided with royal advisors on wording of equality laws into 1970s.

Buckingham Palace reportedly does not dispute that the Queen is exempt from these laws but does say there is a process in place.

According to Guardian reporting, they were pressed further on what this process was but no more details were forthcoming.

‘Not practice to appoint coloured immigrants’

According to reporting on new documents by The Guardian, in the 1960s the person in charge of managing finances and people for the Queen claimed that specific posts couldn’t be filled by coloured immigrants or foreigners.

This person, Lord Tryon, wrote to the Home Office that the Palace was prepared to comply with new Equality laws but wanted specific exemptions so it would not be possible to legally criticise the royal household.

The documents also shine a light on some quirks of recruitment which included having no procedures and some clandestine recruitment habits.

Buckingham Palace Spokesperson responds

In response to claims that the Queen is exempt from aspects of the Equality Act, a Spokesperson for Buckingham Palace told the Guardian: “The royal household and the sovereign comply with the provisions of the Equality Act, in principle and in practice.

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“This is reflected in the diversity, inclusion and dignity at work policies, procedures and practices within the royal household.

“Any complaints that might be raised under the act follow a formal process that provides a means of hearing and remedying any complaint.”

The importance of diversity in the workplace

Whilst some of the claims are historic it will come as a shock for HR to learn there are organisations that are exempt from the law that enshrines their day-to-day practises.

They will also know that outside of the moral argument for better equality and diversity, having a diverse and inclusive workforce is a top priority, largely due to the huge benefits it can bring for businesses.

In fact, research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that companies boasting greater diversity among senior teams enjoy revenues that are up to 19% higher than their competitors.

Additional research from McKinsey revealed that racially and ethnically diverse organisations outperform similarly placed organisations by 35%, pointing towards the business benefits of prioritising D&I.

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Comments (2)

  • Adam
    Fri, 4 Jun 2021 1:07pm BST
    It is a wonder that organisations don't conduct proper due diligence. However, I think we have a right to change and develop our opinions over time too, as we learn and become more aware. At what point do opinions from over a decade ago cease to be relevant? And therein lies the danger of social media, of posting personal opinions online, which live forever, and really do not differentiate between our personal and professional personas. I write this as a Jew. I am not offended by these comments, everyone has a right to their own opinion.
  • Anne
    Thu, 3 Jun 2021 1:59pm BST
    I think that this is so unfair to our Queen. She had has has such an awful year, is this really new that needs to be peddled? If it was happening now, then yes I would consider it news worth. As it happened almost 60 year ago really!
    Everyone lived in a very different world then, and in the most it has changed. We need to learn from our past not drag it up and display it from the roof tops. I'm sure the Guardian was a very different place then too. Shocking revelations! If we looked at the stories carried at the time, they would be shocking too. Lets learn from our lack of understanding and compassion at that time. Lets show how far forward we have moved.

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