Systemic Racism

Through the Looking Glass

Racism is often only perceived as overt observable manifestations, e.g., derogatory race based language, while covert and less obvious systemic manifestations are overlooked. Systemic racism in the workplace relates to embedded practices, policies, structures, and behaviors that create advantages for some racial groups while disadvantaging other groups (Changoor, 2020) (Agocs 2004).

While systemic racism may be difficult to identify and substantiate, it is important to identify how your workplace may be structured to disadvantage racialized minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples.

A good place to start is by quantifying representation within your organization. The implication of disproportionate representation of racial minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples in the workplace is organizational values, policies, and culture that are constructed by the often dominant White-Male group. This, by default, renders members of racialized minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples at a disadvantage.

Research indicates that this may lead to race-based inequities like, “exclusion or marginalization”, creation of a “chilly climate”, “render minority groups invisible,” producing a “poisoned environment” that is “intimidating, abusive, hostile, humiliating or offensive” to members of racialized minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples (Karambayya,1997).

The three questions below are a great place to start looking at your workplace through a different lens.

The quantifiable data you collect should inform further diversity and inclusion initiatives toward dismantling systemic racial discrimination.

 

  1. What is the numerical representation of members of racialized minorities and Indigenous Peoples within your organization?
  2. What, if any, is the numerical distribution of power of racialized minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples within your organization at the board level, middle management level, and in other decision-making positions?
  3. What is the numerical representation of members of racialized minorities and/or Indigenous Peoples within your HR/hiring team?

References

  • Changoor, Tina, “The truth behind ‘reverse racism’, it’s not racism,” https://ccdi.ca/blog/, 2020.
  • Daniels, Shereen, “The Anti-racist Organization,” USA, John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2022.
  • Karambayya, Rekha, “In Shouts and Whispers: Paradoxes Facing Women of Colour in Organizations,” Journal of Business Ethics, 16(9), 1997, 891-897.
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