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Racism in the Workplace: Essay on Intersectionality and Workplace Diversity

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Intersectionality & Workplace Diversity

In the incident, there are conflicting dynamics and inequalities that exacerbate the realities, identities, and validity of the subjects involved. In this scenario, there are multiple inequalities brought forth in concern. Shirley, though female, is white and heterosexual and Allen is the supervisor. Allen is also white but is homosexual. Robert and Henry are in lower-level positions than Shirley and Allen. Similarly, a second conflicting pair are the racial dynamics. The supervisor is white and was approached with a complaint from a white subordinate against two racial minorities in the workplace.

Sexual harassment and sexist behavior in the workplace are very important and sensitive topics. As the consultant, I will advise that the company has a legal and ethical obligation to investigate the incident thoroughly. This type of behavior in most businesses has a zero-tolerance policy. This type of behavior is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (EEOC). While all forms of sexist behavior and sexual harassment are inappropriate, careful consideration must be made to protect the victim to ensure a hostile work environment is not permitted. Forms of resolution for someone who enacts sexist behavior or sexual harassment may be suspension, disciplinary action, or even dismissal.

Before I provide my recommendation, I would like to explain the validity behind Robert and Shirley’s perspectives. For Shirley, she is valid for her concerns regarding Robert and Henry’s conversation due to the inequality women face in the workplace. Women are underrepresented in workplaces, are promoted less often than men are into management positions, and experience microaggression encounters more frequently than men. Women are also paid less on average than men. Microaggression includes behavior such as having their judgment questioned in their area of expertise, needing to provide more evidence of competence, being addressed unprofessionally, being mistaken for someone at a lower level, contributions being ignored, and demeaning remarks. In fields that are male-dominated, women find themselves the targets of sexual harassment at a higher rate. A higher rate of sexual harassment is exacerbated by companies failing to reaffirm sexual harassment policies and a lack of training or guidance. These create doubt in a company’s ability to address cases quickly and create hostile environments for women. Based on the complaint, Shirley is rightfully upset and concerned as she represents a minority of the company as a female, though she is white.

Robert is also valid in his concerns brought forth. Racial inequality is still prevalent today. First, discrimination against racial minorities, especially African Americans, begins in the hiring process. Resume audit studies have shown that applicants with “white-sounding” names receive callbacks for interviews over 50% more often than those with “African American sounding” names. Black and Hispanic men also earn 65% of what white men earn on average. At higher echelons of positions, white men are the prevailing majority, with white women more likely to achieve a board position than women of color. Additionally, low representation of non-white races and ethnicities also creates tokenism in the workplace. In the company of this incident, Robert and Henry both represent a racial minority that can create tokenism. That tokenism then creates hypervisibility, which is seen by Shirley’s concern that all of Robert and Henry’s conversations are inappropriate despite the fact she only overheard parts of one conversation.

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Tokenism and hypervisibility also create further validity for Shirley and Robert. Robert being African American doesn’t mean that all African Americans are going to have inappropriate conversations at work; just as Shirley being a white female does not indicate that all white females insert themselves in other people’s business. The two minorities involved here, race (African American) and gender (female), have experienced hardships in their existence in the workplace. However, Robert nor Shirley represent their entire group as a whole as individuals.

As your consultant, I have a few recommendations to resolve the incident in question and allow the company to prevent further incidents from occurring. My first recommendation is to issue and re-educate every employee on workplace harassment and discrimination. Harassment and discrimination take form in many types of behaviors, whether intended or not. Regardless of intent, the behavior needs to be deemed inappropriate and unacceptable. My second recommendation is to include diversity when continuing to hire employees. I would recommend hiring different races, ethnicities, and sexual identities in varying levels of positions. Shirley should not feel she is a minority, and especially should not feel she is not taken seriously because she is a woman. Likewise, Robert and Henry are both racially diverse and should not be a minority in their level position.

I also have recommended a course of action for Robert and Shirley. Robert needs to be advised and talked to once he has completed his training on discrimination and harassment. As I said previously, harassment or discrimination exists whether it was intended or not. While he may be correct that Shirley wasn’t invited to the conversation, the conversation should not have taken place at the place of work regardless. He needs to be able to understand how his comments and conversation were offensive to women despite his intent, so he can be more aware of his perceived objectification. I would also advise holding a conversation with Shirley as well. I would recommend discussing and alleviating her concerns that she isn’t taken seriously because she is one of few women in the company. I would also recommend that she is advised what steps you are taking for the company to ensure this doesn’t happen again to anyone. I would also thank her for bringing the concerns to your attention and reassuring her by letting her know you take her concerns seriously and are investigating them fully.

If Robert has been recently coached or trained on harassment policies, I would recommend a fiercer course of action for disciplines, such as a final warning or even dismissal of employment. If the company has not reviewed these policies recently, I would recommend making the training for harassment and discrimination mandatory to complete once per year. In the event your company has not reviewed these policies recently, I would advise a step of discipline like a written warning. Based on the details provided from the incident, I believe there was no malicious intent against Shirley. As this is the first complaint on file regarding this type of behavior from Robert or Henry, I don’t believe she has the right to believe they hold many of these conversations. Despite my opinion, Shirley’s perception of the conversation is that it was an inappropriate conversation to have in the workplace, which is justified. If the company reaffirms its policies and handling of sexist behavior and sets the precedent that the behavior is unacceptable, these events should occur less and ensure employee belief in your company’s ability to swiftly and effectively handle hostile work environments.

References

  1. Kimmel, M. & Aronson, A. & Bridges, T. (2017) Economy and Work Introduction. Sociology Now (567 – 608).
  2. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (N.D.) Race/Color Discrimination. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/race_color.cfm
  3. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (N.D.) Facts about Sexual Harassment. Retrieved from https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm
  4. Shaw, E., Hegewisch, A., Phil, M., Hess, C. (2018) Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs
  5. Bertrand, M., Mullainathan, S. (N.D.) Discrimination in the Job Market in the United States

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Racism in the Workplace: Essay on Intersectionality and Workplace Diversity. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-in-the-workplace-essay-on-intersectionality-and-workplace-diversity/
“Racism in the Workplace: Essay on Intersectionality and Workplace Diversity.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/racism-in-the-workplace-essay-on-intersectionality-and-workplace-diversity/
Racism in the Workplace: Essay on Intersectionality and Workplace Diversity. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-in-the-workplace-essay-on-intersectionality-and-workplace-diversity/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Racism in the Workplace: Essay on Intersectionality and Workplace Diversity [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/racism-in-the-workplace-essay-on-intersectionality-and-workplace-diversity/
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