The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (amended in 1991) declared that employers must maintain a workplace free of discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. As a result, organizations have attempted to reduce racial discrimination, of which racial harassment is a subtype. Nevertheless, racial discrimination and harassment remain pervasive throughout the workplace, with 40% to 76% of ethnic minority employees experiencing at least one unwanted race-based behavior within a 12 to 24-month period (Harrell, 2000; Schneider et al., 2000).
As workplaces become more diverse, they do not necessarily become less discriminatory. Diverse workplaces may be characterized by antagonism between people of different races. Interethnic discrimination may exist alongside the discrimination that has traditionally occurred between blacks and whites, i.e., non-white racial and ethnic groups may engage in disparate-treatment employment discrimination.
Many of the common assumptions about race are incorrect, yet the consequences of racism and discrimination are very real today. Discrimination and harassment (racial, ethnic, sexual harassment, and more) in the workplace can rear its ugly head in a variety of forms, some of which can be overt or obvious. More often, racial discrimination can be subtle and difficult to detect, such as an employer’s failure to hire or promote an individual on account of their race. Whichever form it takes, however, racial discrimination in the workplace is strictly prohibited by a number of federal and state laws.
With the increased visibility of racial tension, more and more people are realizing how important it is to talk about and do something to eradicate racism. In order to deal with racism, however, we must first be able to talk about race. But what is race, exactly? It appears to be connected to skin color – but is it based in biology? It is a powerful basis of identity – but has it always been thought of in the same way?
Invista provides employers with a highly recognized training based on a PBS series by California Newsreel titled “Race: The Power of an Illusion”. The training begins by going back to first principles and asking about the underlying social, economic, and political conditions that disproportionately channel advantages and opportunities.
The purpose of the training is to provide participants with a safe environment in which to explore and challenge their own beliefs and attitudes about race and discrimination and to practice better ways of talking to one another about sensitive topics, and begin having courageous conversations with one another about how the notion of race affects our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.
Unlike other race or discrimination trainings, Invista’s “Race: The Power of an Illusion” training is a guided learning experience, led by a team of trained facilitators. The course outline and a facilitated discussion encourage and support participants’ active involvement in the learning exchange. Having these discussions may help us shift today’s conversations toward building and respecting cultural differences and a more just and equitable workplace.
Contact us here if your organization could use help having these difficult, sensitive and necessary discussions. As previously mentioned above, Invista has several expert facilitators that could lead your team through a training in a safe environment that will benefit each individual, and in return, your organization as a whole.
For a more detailed description of what this training would look like for your organization, click here to view the Course Outline titled “Race: The Power of an Illusion.”
Harrell, S. P. (2000). A multidimensional conceptualization of racism-related stress: Implications for the well-being of people of color. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 42-57.
Schneider, K. T., Hitlan, R. T., & Radhakrishnan, P. (2000). An examination of the nature and correlates of ethnic harassment experiences in multiple contexts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85, 3-12.