What is Racial Discrimination in the Workplace?

What is Racial Discrimination in the Workplace?

Racial discrimination in the workplace occurs when there is a differential treatment of individuals based on their ethnicity, nationality, race, language, customs, or cultural background. This can include behaviors such as making disparaging comments about a colleague’s color, being aggressive toward a colleague of another religion, or overlooking a peer on account of racial discrimination. These behaviors can be classified as racism at work.

It has been proven that racial discrimination adversely affects an individual’s psychological well-being and can lead to a reduction in productivity, decreased job satisfaction, low self-esteem, etc. 

Discrimination is prohibited by law

A person cannot discriminate against others based on race, color, language, customs, etc. in accordance with the Removal of Racial Discrimination Act, 1949. A company may not discriminate against its employees based on their race. Every employee should be afforded equal employment opportunities. 

The Adverse Effects of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace 

The result of this is a loss of self-confidence and a decrease in psychological health. Those who are being discriminated against feel excluded from the workplace, which in turn reduces their productivity. Also, a considerable amount of evidence shows that racism leads to depression and difficulty in coping and adapting to different situations. All this lowers the overall job satisfaction of employees. (Source: The Impact of Racism on Mental Health, 2018) 

Ways to Combat Racial Discrimination in the Workplace 

From an organizational perspective

Hiring practices should be free from bias 

The job description should be neutral in language, with no reference to a person’s color, culture, or language. Employers must hire culturally diverse people so that all of their employees are aware of the diversity of races. This is accomplished by creating a culture of innovation and improving employee performance, resulting in the growth of the organization. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are likely to attract a broader range of talent and maintain a greater level of employee retention. 

Implement a strict anti-discrimination policy at work 

We recommend that the workplace has a clear and strict anti-discrimination policy that clearly identifies those workplace behaviors that are not acceptable. When discriminatory behavior is observed, sanctions such as termination, demotion, etc. should be addressed. It is also important for the employer to keep a close eye on employees’ behavior, and if discriminatory behavior occurs, to act. 

Anti-discrimination training should be conducted 

Through training, employees will gain an understanding of the different types of behaviors that are considered discriminatory and how they affect an individual’s work and psychological health. During training, they can become aware of different cultures and learn new ways to accept people from different cultures. Developing strategies to overcome biases and diversity can be achieved through training. 

At Team Level

Peers and colleagues should speak out for the suffering of others 

Co-workers should support the victim and speak out against discrimination. Peer support enhances the confidence of the sufferer and enables him/her to cope with the situation effectively. 

At Individual Level

An employee who has been discriminated against must inform management so that corrective action may be taken, and the frequency of discriminatory behavior may be reduced. The following are some of the measures that can be taken to eliminate racial discrimination in the workplace. Employers and employees are responsible for fostering a work environment that is inclusive for the betterment of all employees. 

Explore: how to develop a diversity and inclusion training

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