Racism in the Workplace: How to Deal with Racial Discrimination at Work

Racism in the Workplace
Image Credit: Loyola University Chicago

Do you know that racism is a pandemic that can hinder the growth of your organization? The fact is that racism, like all modes of oppression, is a learned practice. We are not born with it, but it’s something we are brainwashed into. As you plan to set up your organization, are you going to allow this means of prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people to eat up your company? I believe the answer is NO. Therefore, this article is a guide on how to deal with and talk about systemic racism discrimination in the workplace, highlighting a few examples and statistics.

Systemic Racism in the WorkPlace

According to Wikipedia, Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioural traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism against other people because they are of different ethnicity. Looking at it from this definition, this is not what will actually make our company grow. I suggest if we employ Multiracialism we would be on the safer side.

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Racism in the workplace
Image Credit: Employment Attorney Los Angeles(Racism in the workplace)

However, For ages, systemic racism has pointed out inequalities undergone by blacks in the workplace. They are faced many challenges when found amongst other races especially in the workplace. Thus, they find difficulty gaining promotions or comparable pay as their co-workers, even if they share the same job title.

Furthermore, systemic racism in the workplace is done by indirect discrimination, harassment, and other forms of violence. It gives these victims no authority within their jobs.

Examples of Racism in the Workplace

Racism is oftentimes understood only in terms of obtrusive, and hostile attitudes. They are unconsciously done between one race and the other. They sometimes take the form of verbal injury or physical bullying. A typical example of racism in the workplace is when an employee promotion has been overlooked. Another example is when they are given an open hostility in the workplace through the underlisted racism forms.

  1. Colour discrimination
  2. Biracial discrimination
  3. Intersectional discrimination
  4. Reverse discrimination
  5. Association discrimination
  6. Same-race discrimination

 Racism discrimination also occurs in terms of harassment or denial of benefits, in the workplace. Thus, giving the person a hostile work environment.

Racism in the Workplace Statistics

Recently, there has been improvement in tackling racial discrimination. Although, it is clear that it still lives on in the workplace in less obvious and more nuanced methods. Below are few racism statistics drawn from different workplaces which can possibly make you uncomfortable.

  1. When SHRM surveyed 1,257 U.S. workers for its Together Forward @Work report on racial inequity base on June 2020 data, only 35% of Black workers believe racial or ethnic discrimination exists in their workplace, while 7% of white workers believe the same.
  2. Oftentimes, black Americans are twice likely to be jobless as white Americans. 
  3. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America Wages 2019, Black workers with advanced degrees earned about 74.4% of the wages that white workers with advanced degrees earned in 2019. On average, Black and Hispanic workers receive less pay than white workers at almost every level of education. 
  4. In 2016, about 70% of Asian and Black workers in Britain agreed that they had experienced racial harassment at work in the previous years. This record is based on the answers of about 6,193 people in Britain who participated in the 2016-2017 Racism work survey.
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How you should Talk about Racism in the Workplace?

Both managers and employees feel uncomfortable talking about racism in the workplace. Therefore, for some leaders who find it difficult to address issues related to racism in the workplace. Here is a necessary step in deriving progress and taking those goals to fulfilment. Below are few steps on how to talk about racism in the workplace.

  1. State a clear company’s policy for racial discrimination of any kind
  2. Outline a clear goal for your organization without pressurizing any race
  3. Adopt a clear learners mindset centering on the marginalized voices
  4. Adopt cultural relativism as a learning process for growth

How to Deal with Racial Discrimination

As defined above, Racial discrimination refers to prejudicial behaviours toward people or groups based on their race, ethnic origin, nationality, or skin colour. A typical example of racial discrimination from an employer is allowing race or skin colour to influence their determination.

However, even strategy is a preachy and statutory duty for employers. It is their responsibility to investigate and respond to issues as well as taking measures to protect employees against harassment. Quality conventional education and training, on policies, to your employees. This is a key to preventing racial discrimination in the workplace. Here are steps to tackle racism in the workplace.

#1. Transparency

Transparency at the workplace means communicating openly and uprightly with your employees. It’s a tool for cultivating a culture where information can freely flow between people and units. 

Transparency at the workplace reduces racism and allows every individual in your company to take part in all activities. However, this encourages Teamwork and Team Spirit.

#2. Psychologically safe Environment.

Except your workers feel psychologically safe, they won’t feel comfortable opening up to you when they feel they have been sidelined or experience racism. Therefore ensure you create an environment of psychological safety, listening to opinions from different angles and prefer a fair judgement to it.

#4. Encourage Racism Conferences

You can organize a conference by Inviting people of colour to share their experiences and insights about racism in the workplace. Make reviews and compulsory policies for racial discrimination. Don’t forget that, racial discrimination can be unintentional therefore, all you’ve got to do is to root out any racism in your workplace. Also endeavour to brush through your corporate policies, salary structure, your hiring process, which might operate a certain race.

#5. Enforce consequences for Defaulters.

All conversations and no action makes no sense. Therefore setting a penalty for defaulters will really work in curtailing racism in the workplace. Meanwhile, you can also provide a handbook/constitution including a racist policy that governs your establishment. With this, you can take disciplinary action against any racist behaviours.

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In Summary, when discussing racism, it’s normal to feel defensive. You may be reading this article thinking, it doesn’t happen in my workplace. Just because it has never happened to you doesn’t mean it hasn’t or won’t happen to your colleagues. The sums shown in workplace racism Statistics above has made it obvious that we still have a problem.

Finally, as an employer, ending racism in the workplace is made apparent by the impact of your actions. If there is discrimination in your company, base on colour, race, or religion should be withdrawn, for the benefit of all. You can also hire an anti-racism facilitator to help discuss racial justice.

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