Battling Workplace Racism & Discrimination
While we’re well past the days of racist signs such as “No Negroes or Jews,” racial discrimination in the workplace is still very prevalent, thanks to the oblivion of many Canadian employers and managers. So why are we still battling workplace racism today? Here are a few reasons:
• Employers and managers are reluctant to acknowledge racism and discrimination in the workplace.
• Many employers and managers do not understand how diversity benefits their companies.
• An inclusive work environment is not always promoted.
• Many Canadians still see minorities as immigrants who are “stealing” jobs.
• Union initiatives to promote diversity are often non-existent.
• Employers often have little knowledge about human rights.
• Organizations may hire visible minorities and keep them in the background or in “non-visible” roles.
• Due to systemic discrimination, racism is hard to measure.
Faced with these hurdles, many African Canadians begin to feel frustrated, disillusioned and helpless, especially when much of the workplace racism is subtle and covert.
So how do you know if you’re facing just a “bad” work environment versus a racist one? Here are a few clues:
• Small number of visible minorities in higher positions.
• Illegitimate criteria for jobs (e.g. hairstyle, marital status, etc.).
• Patterns of complaint (frivolous and repetitive criticisms).
• Lack of mentoring.
• Double standards for your job (e.g. you are asked to do certain tasks others in your position aren’t, like Will Smith’s character in The Pursuit of Happyness, or you don’t qualify for bonuses like your colleagues do).
• Manager hires based on presumed comfort of other staff instead of on qualifications.
• You’re often overlooked for promotion without adequate explanation.
• You’re frequently left out of the loop.
• Your contributions and achievements are often overlooked.
• Acceptance of racist jokes.
If any of these seem familiar to you, you may be deep in the workplace racism zone. So how do you get out of it?
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