Racial discrimination in theworkplace has persisted for longer than many may think. Discrimination becauseof origin or skin color still exists in many organizations (Wrench, 1997), despiteracial discrimination being outlawed by the majority of the worlds’ countries. Manyemployers still practice acts of discrimination to this day, as discriminationcan often be subtle and not so easy to identify. For instance, research showsthat white applicants get approximately 36% more callbacks than African Americanswho possess the same qualifications (Triana, Jayasinghe & Pieper, 2015).The study also showed that white applicants get about 24% more callbackscompared to Latinos.
Because all the applicants are qualified, it is impossiblefor one to declare that they have not been chosen because of their race (Trianaet al., 2015). However, it is true that minorities are less likely to be hired.According to Noor (2017),snowy peak syndrome is defined as predominantly white owned companies andorganizations. No matter how balanced the lower posts in an organization are interms of the race, those in the higher positions are almost always white. TheGuardian conducted research and found out that only approximately 3% of CEOs,managers and prominent individuals come from ethnic minorities. The findingswere that about 97% of the most influential people in the UK are white (Noor,2017).
This essay aims at explaining why there is persistent racialdiscrimination in the workplace.One of the reasons given byexperts about the low number of ethnic minorities in top ranking positions isorganizational cliff edge (Stewart, 2009). Organizational cliff edge refers to the prevention of suitably qualifiedindividuals from advancing in their career. One reason for preventing them mightbe for instance if a minority heads the organization, they might fight thediscrimination that has been in the organization since the beginning, and thepeople who have been viewed as superior might lose their legitimacy orinfluence (Fox & Stallworth, 2005). When the qualified and high performingminorities do not receive the same benefits and salaries, however, they leavethe organization for greener pastures, thus leaving the snowy peak leadershipintact.An example of discriminationin the top managerial positions is the low BME representation in the EnglishFootball Association (Taylor, 2015). The minoritiesin the European Football Association are not highly motivated to work hard forhigher positions because there is no hope of holding a top management position.The white coaches on the other hand are assured of moving up the laddersmoothly (Taylor, 2015).
One coach saysthat BAME coaches are not as fulfilled as they had hoped, as racialdiscrimination prevented them from demonstrating their talent and expertise.According to Turnbull (2014), affinity bias is anotherreason for the persistence of racial discrimination in the workplace. Mosthiring teams comprise of the majority groups who are mostly white. Becausethere are more white people at the top level, there is more possibility of thembeing more on the recruitment panel. Turnbull(2014) argues that affinity bias is the unconscious preference for a particularcandidate. For instance, if two people from different racial groups areinterviewed and they are equally qualified, affinity bias determines who isgoing to be hired because employers choose a person who they find to be “goodfit” for them (Carlsson, 2010).
If a hiring panel comprisesof more white people, which is mostly the case, more white people are mostlikely to be hired and retained because apart from the professional skills thathelp one get and retain a job, there is the degree to which the employer andemployee can relate to each other (Turnbull,2014). Affinity bias in many cases shields racism because people who arediscriminatory use it to justify their actions.A case example is the LondonMetropolitan Police department that only had about 11% ethnic minority officersin 2014 despite London having about 40% ethnic minorities (Dodd, 2014). Thisdisparity of figures is tremendous considering that London comprises of peoplefrom all races. Although there have been efforts to narrow the gap and haveabout 25% ethnic minority officers in the Met, not much has been achieved, as thetop ranks are held by white people who also recruit people of their race (Dodd,2014). Professor Chris Smith and Andre Clarke say that the continuedunderrepresentation of BME officers in the Met is due to the failure ofpolicies and methods being adjusted to consider the requirements and needs ofthe multi-racial society.
Although London’s ethnic minorities have increased toabout 40%, they still have less numbers in the Met.According toSiebers (2015), ethnic boundaries are put into place when people from the same ethnicitycome together and keep outside ethnicities out. Ethnic boundaries characterizea group and defines a particular ethnic group. Ethnic boundaries are formed bypeople’s belief that they originated from the same ancestry. Additionally,cultural homogeneity does not only define a group, but its ethnic boundary(Siebers, 2015).
Ethnic boundaries have social characteristics in the sensethat people from a particular group prefer to interact with their fellowmembers while sidelining or conflicting with outside groups. According toWimmer (2013), ethnic closure is when ethnic groups distribute resources byfavoring their kin. All these aspects of ethnic boundary are relevant to racismand discrimination in the workplace.
An exampleof influence of ethnic boundary is the case of Dinesh, an operational commanderin the Dutch police force from Suriname. Dinesh applied to be appointed as adeputy team leader, but his application was denied on the basis of his culturalbackground (Siebers, 2015). The district commander who turned down hisapplication told him that he was not ‘assertive’ and ‘blatant’ as required.Despite this assessment, Dinesh obeys his superiors and is calm, both of whichare good qualities for a leader (Siebers, 2015). This case shows discriminationagainst one’s culture because the claims of the district commander do not seemto be genuine or particularly truthful.
However, it is apparent that Dinesh wasnot hired because he himself is not originally or ethnically Dutch.Additionally, there is evidence of an ethnic boundary between the Dutch and theSuriname minorities because they are judged on the basis of their culture, butnot by their personal qualifications or characteristics.According to Fox and Stallworth (2005), the continuedstereotypes against minorities and white people have been a primary reason forthe persistence of racial discrimination in the workplace. For instance, whitepeople are said to be better at thinking and reasoning than minorities who supposedlyhave a lower thinking capacity. Exposure to these stereotypes since early ageaffects how people behave even when they are grown (Roscigno, 2007).For example, Rees says that in the five yearshe has been in the journalism world he has seen his reports routinely beingproofread multiple times, whereas the reports of those of his colleagues whoare Caucasian are published without being edited (Noor, 2017). Moreover, he haswitnessed many young white people being exposed to new exercises and activitieswhile he is left to perform jobs that are routine and common. The reason forbeing sidelined is because he is a minority, which has nothing to do withwhether or not Rees is qualified (Noor, 2017).
These discriminatory actionshave persisted because of such malevolent and demeaning stereotypes attached tothe minority races.Many minorities are said tobe lazy, backward, irresponsible, and several other negative connotations (Roscigno,2007). It is more difficult for minority groups to survive in the UK andAmerica because of low education standards. Having a parent who did not go tocollege increases the chances of one not being able to pass the high schoollevel. Such is the case with an overwhelming amount of minorities (McKay et al.,2007).
Therefore, these stereotypes spill over into the workplace, leavingthose who have overcome struggles with discrimination at school find themselvesin the same situation once more. Research shows that minority employees aremore likely to be sent off from work after one mistake compared to whiteemployees (Stewart, 2009). The reason forthis difference is the racist perception of minorities as untrustworthy.Cultural upbringing is yet anotherreason for the persistence of racial discrimination at the workplace (Bakunin, 2017). The way that people in placeswith many different races are raised influences how they behave.
Many minoritygroups raise their children by telling them that they will be discriminatedagainst (Coleman, 2004). A large numberof white people, on the other hand, raise their children by warning them thatthey should be careful when around their minority friends, further spreadingharmful stereotypes and preconceptions. Although not all parents teach theirchildren about racism, society also contributes a lot in terms of how peoplefrom different races perceive one another. Although there are calls for peopleto shun racism, children grow up being aware that they might be discriminatedagainst while the others treat their friends with caution (Coleman, 2004).
In Britain, minority workersare paid 10% less than white workers who have the same job qualifications,earning approximately £1.20 less in an hour (Triana et al., 2015).
The reasonbehind the pay gap between the BAME workers and the white workers is that the latterare a priority in the employers eyes. Considering that all the workers arequalified for the job, it simply unjust and for some to get paid more thanothers. The discrimination has persisted due to laws that regulate labor in theUK (Carlsson, 2010).In conclusion, the issue ofracial discrimination has persisted in the workplace due to factors rangingfrom cultural upbringing to historical memory.
One major factor is the culturethat has been passed from one generation to another. Since the unforgettableand tacitly significant era of slavery, minorities of all kinds are stillsubject to unequal treatment. Despite America and Britain fighting for equal rights,racial discrimination in the workplace has continued to persist, with unequalpaychecks and less than adequate treatment acting as evidence.The harmful yet powerfulstereotypes people have against one another affect the ways in which wecommunicate with each other in all kinds of environments, but most importantlyin the workplace.
Because employers often adhere to the stereotype that whitepeople exude a better image, they are more likely to hire them to act as thefaces and leaders of their organizations. In the attempts to create a whiteethnic boundary in the workplace, ethnic minorities are too often mistreatedand looked down upon, due to conditions such as snowy peak syndrome andaffinity bias that uphold this boundary. For minorities such as Dinesh and Rees,whether or not they are qualified matters far less than their racial andcultural backgrounds, making them victims of racial discrimination in the workplace.