Next to darker-skinned women, members for the LGBTQ+ are on the receiving end of persistent discrimination in the workplace.
By Zee Johnson
Catalyst’s Exposé of Women’s Workplace Experiences Challenges Antiracist Leaders to Step Up revealed that more than half of women from underrepresented ethnic groups reported experiencing racism at work, and women with darker skin tones, along with queer women (63%) or trans women (67%), were even more likely to have this experience. These figures are in comparison to cisgender, heterosexual colleagues (49%) who report the same.
Experiences included both overt racism, deliberate and intentional prejudice or discriminative actions, and covert racism, often subtle and unspoken like microaggressions. Whilst managers, especially in HR, are responsible for remedying these instances, about 25% of employees feared that senior leaders would also discriminate against a worker based on their ethnicity, race, or culture.
When senior leaders did not demonstrate allyship and curiosity, the study found that 10% more people (56% versus 46%), and 49% say their senior leaders are not allies to under-represented groups.
Lorraine Hariton, president and CEO of Catalyst, said in the report that leaders cannot act as they did historically and must take a stand by putting an end to such behaviours. “The days when organisations and CEOs could turn a blind eye to racism in the workplace are over,” she said. “Senior leaders must cultivate open, diverse cultures where incidences of racism are swiftly dealt with and fairness and accountability are at the heart of an organisation’s processes and procedures.”
Hariton also offered steps for senior leaders to take for racism prevention.
- Use allyship and curiosity to prevent experiences of racism. Learn about the barriers that people from marginalised groups face in the workplace, listen to their experiences, and advocate for them.
- Strengthen the organizational climate. Be vocal about instances of racism and ensure company policies promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
- Create accountability programs. Develop feedback systems to measure and track experiences of racism and hold offending employees accountable with swift action.