Does more workplace diversity mean more workplace racism?

I am so appreciative of the support I am getting from my subscribers, pals and those who prefer to remain anonymous. (I respect your reasons.) Quite recently, I had this exchange with one of my readers who reached out to me. It was in response to my most recent “Things I Think About Podcast” which focused on the negative effects of diversity quotas.

I completely agree with ur assessment- however, quotas are going to begin to trickle in all areas of our lives – this was BIG in business years ago. It always amazed me that people aren’t /weren’t always hired because they have/had the skills and qualifications for the job. Where there are quotas, the output and quality of things will be in jeopardy. What’s even a bigger concern for me is when u have an employee that isn’t performing to the level of what is needed in the job and u can’t take the appropriate action as u fear the action / backlash because they are a minority– race, gender, etc.

– Anxious in Atlanta

I thought that was a very interesting point and one of those things that HR departments dread happening inside their company. As I reflected on it, a podcast I produced a year ago came to mind. In the podcast, I predicted the increase in racism at the workplace for a variety of reasons. Although I had no idea of the levels of civil unrest we are experiencing today, my theory was based on survey data from a polling app called – TruePublic.

One of the polling statements posed on the app was “Racism is still common in the American Workplace” and you as a TruePublic user had the choice to agree or disagree with the statement. I thought the results were interesting. Out of the 1,201 votes, 84% of Democrats strongly agreed that racism was common in the workplace whereas 62% of Republicans did not. Independents were in the middle at 75%. For those who were Hispanic or Asian, the view was 80% agreeable, Blacks strongly agreed at 86% and Whites agreed at 71%. And there were other breakdowns available, to see them all, download the TruePublic app and find them there. But, I digress.

Why did so many people feel that racism proliferated in their 2019 workplace? Was it really that common? I remember thinking that it wasn’t because such had not been my experience. Out of curiosity, I researched it and remembered thinking how fortunate I was to not experience the drama others had been going through. I’m going to share some of the research I looked up a year ago and invite you to comment on the state of racism in the workplace today.

For those who don’t know about the EEOC here is an overview of what they do, straight from their website.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (aka EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

Among other things, the EEOC tracks how many cases of discrimination they process per year, per state. In case you are curious, Pennsylvania (4,463 cases), Texas (7,482 cases) and Florida (6,617 cases) were the states with the most cases processed by the EEOC in 2018.

Here are a few interesting cases related to racism in the workplace that you might not have heard about it in the news.   

CareerAddict reports on JPMorgan Chase, quote…

Amidst ongoing allegations of a lack of diversity on Wall Street, high-profile investment bank JPMorgan Chase settled out of court for $19.5 million with six of its employees last year, citing its commitment to ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment as its reason for avoiding litigation. The six employees in question – located at JPMorgan Chase branches across the US – claim that they were relocated by the bank to less lucrative branches than their white counterparts, thereby denying them numerous career and growth opportunities. As part of the settlement, an additional $4.5 million will be set aside to fund anti-discrimination training, BAME recruitment drives and coaching programmes for black employees.

Campus Safety Magazine reports, quote…

A federal court in Virginia has entered a $200,000 judgment against Old Dominion University (ODU) in favor of Brett Birkmeyer, a white former police officer in the predominantly black ODU Police Department, who sued ODU claiming he was fired by ODU because he is white and because he complained to ODU officials that he and other white employees in the ODU Police Department were being subjected to race discrimination.

And this case, EEOC v. Hamilton Growers, Inc., I found on XpertHR. Quote…

Hamilton Growers, Inc., d/b/a Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable (Southern Valley), agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a claim of racial bias brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that Southern Valley violated Title VII by terminating almost all American workers while retaining most of its workers from Mexico. The EEOC also claimed that American workers were provided with “lesser job opportunities,” subject to different terms and conditions of employment such as delayed starting times and early stop times, or denied the opportunity to work at all, while Mexican workers were permitted to continue working. In addition to the monetary settlement, Southern Valley agreed to exercise good faith and implement nondiscriminatory hiring practices by recruiting and retaining qualified American workers and African-American workers for all farm work positions.

When I looked for examples of judgements awarded as a result of EEOC litigation and/or related lawsuits, I wanted to find a pattern. I wanted to gauge if racism in the workplace was an actual thing or, if it was something that disgruntled employees do. After all, just because people file a case against an employer for discrimination, doesn’t make it so; especially in light or the political and cultural divide going on in 2019 America (when I first looked this stuff up). So, imagine my delight and subsequent disappointment, when I stumbled across this book called –  “Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Perpetuates Inequality.”

The authors Robert L. Nelson and Ellen Berrey were discussed in a Huffington Post article of which I will quote…

The authors of the new book, Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Perpetuates Inequality, examined nearly 2,000 cases filed between 1988 and 2003 across the U.S.. The three authors interviewed more than 100 plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers and involved parties to find that the workplace often is not fair in cases of discrimination. The success rate for cases of discrimination filed is dismal; only two percent of plaintiffs win at trial. That is after 19 percent of the cases were dismissed. Half or 50 percent have early settlements, 18 percent of the cases are lost on summary judgment and 8 percent of the cases have a late settlement.

To promote the book, the author posted audio of some of the people they interviewed for the book. Here are some of the clips I found interesting.

In the future, I think there will be more racism in the office because at its core, racism is the result of willful bigotry. I don’t know you personally, so I rely on stereotypes and groupthink to form my opinion rather than identify you as a person. People do it all the time which is why racism persists. The changing demographics of America will surely exacerbate some of that. Do a search on DuckDuckGo or Bing or Google for the phrase “the browning of America” for more insight into what I mean. As more and more people enter the workforce from diverse backgrounds that you do not know, understand or want to understand, the more racism will persist, to varying degrees.

Now add to that more women in leadership positions competing against men, and that increases the likelihood of gender discrimination (and reverse gender discrimination). As minorities increase in the population, more cases of reverse discrimination will likely occur.

And I don’t think that’s a race thing or a gender thing (for that matter), I think it’s a human thing. No race or special group is without sin, in my opinion. Just put that group, any group in power and watch them eventually take advantage of those with lesser influence.

One of my heroes, the Rev Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

On one hand, my country still has some work to do before Rev King’s dream is fully realized yet on the other hand, we have come a mighty long way. So much so, that I refuse to believe that America is an inherently racist country. And I am not the only one who thinks that way. Listen to how this African American radio personality – Larry Elder responds to the question, Is America Racist?  

Now, I want to hear from you. The way things are now, should we expect more racism in the workplace or less? Will companies be afraid to fire nonperforming minority workers because of political correctness? If so, how many companies will lose profits because of that? How many people will leave said company because they are outraged or offended or simply feel that they are unfairly treated? Please, please, please share your thoughts.