You mildly voice a concern at work to your supervisor who responds by writing you up for being “aggressive” and demanding that a third party be present during any future encounters between the two of you.
You notice that coworkers of a certain ethnic identity or gender are paid less than others and often verbally abused by your supervisor.
Sadly, these situations are not uncommon.
The Harvard Business Review conducted a study that aimed to test the popularity of the “angry Black woman” stereotype. Out of the 300 subjects who were tested, the study found that “participants were more likely to attribute the anger of Black female employees to internal characteristics, or her personality. This had negative consequences because internal attributions translated into lower performance ratings and leadership evaluations.”
According to American Progress, “Black workers, for example, typically get paid a great deal less than white workers. The typical median weekly earnings for Black full-time employees was $727 from July 2019 to September 2019, compared with $943 for whites.”
So, racism and prejudice are frequent occurrences in many workplaces. But a number of survivors choose to keep their heads down and ignore it as best they can.
Suppose you don’t want to ignore it? Then, what do you do?
One option is to report the behavior to Human Resources.
If you do, it’s important that you have proof of their inappropriate conduct. So, if comments have been made via email or in other documents, save those emails or documents and bring them to HR. One thing to remember is to avoid recording conversations without the other person’s consent. This might not be usable as evidence or proof as it may be a violation of privacy.
Experts also recommend documenting each incident of racism, including the date, time, and location of each situation.
All of the evidence you’re able to compile can be helpful in backing up a complaint that you bring to HR. A solid body of proof may motivate them to take action and solve the problem.
Rebecca Stevens has encountered racism at work on multiple occasions. She wrote an article for Medium on the subject and offered alternative suggestions on how to manage a racist supervisor.
Stevens’ five tips are below.
In any case, being treated unfairly at work is disheartening. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor or even a career coach who has tips on how to improve your self-esteem and embrace your sense of identity as you heal.