Saida Bello, a Black lawyer who served as the City of London Corporation's first director of equality, diversity and inclusion, has brought forward a race discrimination claim against the organisation.
Bello alleges that she was unfairly dismissed from her position just ten months into her role and asserts that there is deep-rooted institutional racism within the City of London Corporation.
The City of London Corporation holds a significant role in managing various aspects of London, including the capital's square mile, 4,500 hectares of green space, markets like Billingsgate, housing, schools, academies, the Port Health Authority, the Barbican Centre, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
During a tribunal hearing held on Wednesday, Bello voiced the allegations, stating, "There is institutional racism entrenched deeply in the City of London Corporation." She claimed that almost 200 other employees of colour within the organisation have also filed complaints regarding racial discrimination.
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Bello asserted that 186 individuals had tried to have their concerns addressed, but were met with little success.
The case includes claims of direct race discrimination, harassment related to race, victimisation, and whistleblowing detriment in her capacity as the director of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Bello highlighted a specific incident during her tenure when a casual worker at the Barbican lodged a complaint about racism, but received no response from the organisation for seven months. Bello, in her effort to address this issue, sent an email regarding the case in January 2023, only to find herself informed 12 days later that she would not be passing her probationary period.
During the hearing, Bello expressed her concerns about the swift dismissal, stating, "If you are black and you get involved in a discrimination claim, you can lose your job in 12 days. I'm just one of the victims. A lot of employees of colour have left over this sort of behaviour. Racism against black employees is so deeply entrenched."
The executive disclosed that she had been offered a £10,000 settlement, which she rejected, believing that she should not have to sacrifice her job for addressing discrimination within the workplace.
The City of London Corporation issued a statement in response to these allegations, saying, "We take these claims extremely seriously. In both our service delivery and employment practices, we seek to be an equitable, diverse and inclusive organisation, where people of all ethnicities and backgrounds feel safe and welcome.
“It would be inappropriate to comment any further while this employment tribunal is ongoing."