The British Council has absolved its senior officers accused of racism and other forms of discrimination in Kenya.
The council, in a statement on Tuesday, said it had concluded investigations into the affected members of staff and found no evidence of racial discrimination, bullying, or harassment as alleged.
“In the course of the investigative process, the British Council identified opportunities for improvement of its operations in Kenya,” the statement read.
The improvements, the council said, include the process for handling complaints, the management of staff performance and the management of redundancy processes.
“We will continue to learn lessons through open and honest appraisal and following this investigative process, we will look to strengthen our processes and training,” the council added.
While defending the council from claims of discrimination, the management said most of its employees in Kenya including senior officers are locals.
“All the employees in our Kenya operation, with the exception of one individual, are Kenyan nationals, including five out of six members of the leadership team,” the statement added.
The council launched the probe after seven current and former employees in Kenya protested against alleged ill-treatment by senior white executives at the organisation in a letter to the Council and Kenyan authorities in July last year.
The complainants claimed the current Country Director Jill Coates uses organisation systems and processes to bully, threaten and discriminate Kenyans engaged on local terms.
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Some of the cases highlighted by the victims include selective redundancy threats, systematic discrimination through workload, performance and recruitment processes, discrimination on medical grounds and duplicitous disciplinaries.
“Performance management, change programs, disciplinary procedures, and workload has been successfully used by the British Council in Kenya under the leadership not only of the current Country Director Jill Coates, but also of past Directors such as Tony Reilly to punish, harass, bully, and discriminate against Kenyans,” read the 10-page letter.
“The cases underline a repeated practice by white members of staff to constantly assign Kenyans as underperformers, inadequate, unskilled, unprofessional, and suspects as the organisation abuses its procedures and systems to validate its discriminative practice.”
A former Programme Manager claimed they experienced discrimination, harassment and unfair treatment for over two years, which contributed to their hospitalization for severe depression.
According to the former staff, they were threatened with a redundancy notice on unclear grounds.
“I remained at risk of redundancy, for over two (2) years, which is legally not procedural and manifestly inhumane and unfair. After failing to terminate my employment through redundancy in February 2019, British Council began subjecting me to unfair treatment in a bid to force me out of employment,” added the letter.