Tuesday, March 09, 2010

If it Walks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a Duck...

Your employer may be engaging in discrimination if your employer denies Black workers the same training opportunities that are provided to White staff.
At some companies, unequal training opportunities may be offered to Black workers or no training opportunities may exist at all! A lack of training in relevant areas can be used as a “legitimate” reason to overlook certain employees, when it comes to providing more challenging work, supervisory opportunities, and promotions.

While working for my former employer, I began taking on assignments in the Research & Evaluation department of our company. I was offered formal training at a local branch (Washington, DC) of a major training organization in the field. However, a Black executive approached me and said, “They send all the White people out to California. Demand to go to California. That’s where the best training is given.”

When I spoke to a Black coworker, she relayed the same story. White employees were automatically sent to California for the weeklong training session. Yet, I was told that I had to train locally. When I pressed for the California training, I heard excuses about how there might not be money in the budget. YET, all the while, a couple of White chicks were going out-of-state for the same training! I ended up getting the California training, but would have known nothing about the superior training provided in California without someone clueing me in to the facts!

I had a Black coworker ask for training directly related to her job requirements. She was told that she could use the last few thousand dollars in the budget to go to this training. HOWEVER…wait for it…

Her White supervisor, the same person that told her she could go to the training, raced to put through a training/travel voucher to go to the SAME TRAINING. Now, this White supervisor previously stated she was uninterested in this training course. But, as soon as her subordinate mentioned it, she gave her the okay, but made sure the money was unavailable for her to attend.

Why did she do this? Fear!

Her Black subordinate had a Master’s degree—the same as she did. The White supervisor had received her Master’s degree a mere 2 months before the Black employee, yet she was rated as superior enough to be this Black woman’s direct supervisor. The Black employee had an additional certification that her supervisor didn’t have—meaning the education advantage actually went to the Black subordinate. Therefore, this White supervisor was not going to let her subordinate get one more leg up on her. So, she pretended to be supportive of the training and then took the opportunity for herself. She knew damn well there was only enough money in the contract for one person to attend.

The Black employee was furious because she was told that she could use the remaining funds and those funds turned out to be depleted by the next day, when the Black employee submitted her form! This is how some Blacks are undermined in the workplace. We may be promised training that no one intends on us having, may be denied training for no valid reason or we may be offered inferior training opportunities—as I was offered.

You have to wonder why a company would intentionally provide some employees with inferior training, since that brings down the skill level of the company—as a whole. In my case, I know for a fact that race was the only difference in determining who would train at which location. One can only surmise that the point was to keep the Black workers at a lower level of expertise and knowledge compared to White staff. This would continue the unwritten policy at my company that did everything possible to ensure that White staff had an advantage over Black staff.

At this same company, some Blacks were denied training opportunities that were defined as being “premature” for them! What the hell does that mean, anyway? Training is just one way that employers may intentionally discriminate against Black staff. You have to look at what is happening at your company and decide if you are not receiving equal treatment. You should address any disparities with your supervisor and/or Human Resources!


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