The Racialized Workplace

One of the advancements in understanding workplace dynamics comes out of the discipline of Women and Gender studies and referred to as the “Gendered Workplace”. Scholars in the field posit that male-centered or dominated workplaces exert tremendous social pressure for gender identities to conform to unspoken rules, norms, traditions, communication patterns, and behaviors that are grounded in male worldviews and practices (Acker, 1990). Otherwise stated, women (and other gender identities) have to undergo tremendous changes related to their gender identity in order to fit-in to the workplace. This includes clothing, hair, speech, behaviors, work time, relationships, external commitments, and other dimensions and experiences related to being a female in the workplace.

 

Building on the work emerging out of Women and Gender studies and organizational theory, scholars of race (as well as practitioners) have started to outline the characteristics and dynamics of the racialized workplace (Harper & Hooper-Campbell, 2021). That is, the term “racialized work spaces” refers to all the changes, accommodations, and experiences that people of color have to alter in order to fit into predominantly white work environments. These alterations range from ethnic hair styles and code switching to voice tone and expressions of emotion. This also includes avoidance of political office artwork (e.g., no Malcolm X posters); softening opinions about race; working longer hours to counter the presumption of incompetence, assuming the emotional labor required to excuse White colleagues of their racism; and avoiding speaking their native language for fear of upsetting majority associates. In the end, the workplace changes asked of people of color rob them of their identities, cause stress, frustration, and emotional distress.

 

It is important to expose the role that race plays in predominantly white work spaces. First, most societal institutions are trying to diversify their staff by recruiting more Latinx, Black, Native American, and Asian American personnel. Those efforts have to take into consideration the notion that diversity is different than inclusion. The latter refers to the creation of a welcoming climate for diverse individuals to feel included in the office, department, or institution. Second, the racial dynamics cited above adversely affect people of color and their retention in the organization, thus the importance of addressing those negative factors (Forsyth & Carter, 2012).   

 

If you are interested in introducing to your organization, office, or institution awareness of the racial dynamics that play out in a workplace and the solutions to countering those forces, contact us to see about scheduling a workshop designed to educate about those topics at jgt@thelindgroup.com or visit www.thelindgroup.com. This workshop is appropriate for Human Resources professional development initiatives, recruitment efforts, workplace climate committees, and DEI Planning Councils. 

This workshop delves into the dynamics of race and racism and how it plays out in organizations and work spaces. The focus is on people of color and the accommodations they have to endure to fit in and survive in predominantly white workplaces. Participants will receive lots of examples of the changes described above. Additionally, workshop attendees will explore solutions to addressing workplace stressors that lead to changes in people of color for the sake of job survival. Inclusive Excellence, a structural systemic, cultural transformation framework for addressing institutional racism, as well as other “isms”, serves as the context for exploring the topic. The workshop is one to one and a half hours in duration, but can be shortened for different needs and venues. The workshop is available both virtually or in-person.

 

Learning outcomes include an: 1) enhanced understanding of race and its role in a predominantly white workplace; 2) increased awareness of how people of color are impacted by race in the work space; 3) increased understanding of the solutions to countering the negative experiences of people of color; 4) greater awareness of Inclusive Excellence, a systemic-focused approach to combating institutional racism and other forms of discrimination including sexism, heterosexism, and ableism.

 

Acker, J (1990) Hierarchies, jobs, bodies: A theory of gendered organizations. Gender and Society, Volume: 4 issue: 2, page(s): 139-158

Forsyth, J., Carter, R. (2012). The relationship between racial identity status attitudes, racism-related coping, and mental health among Black Americans. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18, 128-140.

Harper, S. and Hooper-Campbell, D. (2021). Race in the workplace. Time-Zoom: https://time.com/race-in-the-workplace/

The Leadership in Diversity Group, LLC
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