I was speaking to a friend recently and the topic turned to racism in the workplace. My friend asked, “What in God’s name makes someone think they have the right to stop someone from getting a promotion because they’re Black?”
That question could be morphed so many times over:
-- What makes a person stop someone from getting training opportunities simply because of race?
-- What makes a person stop someone from getting a fair salary increase simply because of race?
-- What makes a person execute a tangible employment action (demotion, suspension, termination, etc.) simply because of race?
-- What makes a person write a fraudulent performance evaluation simply because of race?
For “race” you could substitute gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc. But, the question is still the same. What makes a person actually act upon their personal biases in the workplace?
Think about it...most people have some other group of people that they do not care for (Whites, Blacks, Jews, Homosexuals, Women, Small People, etc.). Now, most people won’t admit that, but it’s just human nature. The problem isn’t as much in having those biases as it is in acting upon them. Even if race discrimination didn’t violate Federal statutes, why would anyone think they have the right to engage in that activity—particularly in the workplace?
The concept that someone can be so full of hatred, disgust, contempt, etc. for another group of people, to the point where they have absolutely no impulse control, is very frightening. To go to work and decide that you will potentially jeopardize your own career and reputation, just to unjustifiably attack Black workers is an astonishingly arrogant action. To knowingly place your employer in legal jeopardy is reckless and arrogant, as well.
But, what’s crazy about the whole thing is how many employers are willing to engage in activities that serve to protect the very people who are endangering their business. With all the talk about branding and company reputation, you would think that companies would annihilate any employee—regardless of level/title—that is engaging in activities that endanger the well-being of the company.
Unfortunately, when allegations of race-based discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation surface, many employers embrace and protect the alleged perpetrator, while ignoring the plight of the victim. Some employers go as far as to engage in the same illegal behavior, which has been brought to their attention by the victim. The thought process seems to be that the company should deny all wrongdoing—no matter how obvious—in order to make the employee shut up, resign or to set the employee up for termination. Apparently, once the complaining employee is silenced, all will be right in the world again. All of the talk about the company’s “brand” just goes out the window and wagons are often circled around the victims of illegal behavior.
The whole workplace racism dynamic is utterly psychotic on many levels. The actions of the racist—one of the dumbest creatures on the planet—and the actions of far too many employers go against what we declare are desired social norms. We say we want to live in a fair and equal society and we pledge that we want “liberty and justice for all,” but we—as Americans—intentionally fall short on living up to our declared standards of conduct or our declared ideals.
Until people realize they have absolutely no right to engage in racist behavior and that they have absolutely no right to destroy someone’s livelihood/career, we will continue to battle race-based problems in our society.
When employer’s stop sheltering racist workers, supervisors, managers, executives, etc., more people will finally realize that they ARE able to control their impulses. Employers who tolerate known racists and racist behavior just add fuel to the fires of racism in the workplace. Racists need to be shut down! No one is irreplaceable. Especially, not many of the characters who are responsible for the race-based lawsuits against their employers.
To each racist I say: "If you want to be racist, keep that sentiment at home because it’s the only place you should feel comfortable spouting your ignorance with such certainty. But, the minute you leave your home and step out into a diverse society and workplace, you should willingly forfeit any racist views, while you are working on your employer’s dime."
If a person is unable to control their racist impulses for a mere 8 hours a day, that person should seek the attention of a mental health professional. The inability to control one’s impulse to engage in racist behavior is a sure sign that something is terribly wrong with a person’s ability to reason, ability to control their behavior, and ability to show sound judgment.
The reality is…NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO ENGAGE IN RACISM, TO DESTROY OR STIFLE SOMEONE’S CAREER OR TO ENGAGE IN OTHER RACE-RELATED SHENANIGANS AT WORK!
This concept seems obvious. But, reality shows that many people are still trying to work it out!
Labels: adverse action, discrimination, harassment, retaliation