Write a paper in which you relate an experience with prejudice in the workplace. If you do
Race, ethnicity, and cultural background are identifiers of individuals. In any society, how we see ourselves and how others treat us depend on many factors. Most people have confronted prejudice based on these identifiers, by either personally experiencing discrimination or knowing someone who has.
Beyond ensuring an organization\’s compliance with the country’s anti-discrimination laws, it is incumbent upon leaders to support diversity in the workplace and to be culturally competent.
Write a paper in which you relate an experience with prejudice in the workplace. If you do not have such experience directly, you may base your paper on someone you know who has experienced discrimination, or on an actual case that occurred somewhere in the world. Address the following in your paper:
- Summarize the situation you are writing about; provide background information, such as how it happened, to whom it happened (you do not need to identify people by name), when it happened and where. Your goal is to demonstrate to the instructor your ability to assess how racial, ethnic, and/or cultural prejudices are expressed in the workplace.
- Explain the implications of the situation to the organization in terms of its stakeholders, its reputation, and its legal responsibilities. What laws, if any, were broken?
- Identify any negative effects of the discrimination issue on the morale and functioning of coworkers and employees.
- Describe three action steps that you, as a leader, would have taken to avoid the situation in the first place, as well as three actions steps you would have taken to handle the situation after it happened. Describe how you would have addressed \”cultural competence\” in both instances.
Expert Answer and Explanation
Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Prejudice in the Workplace
Over the past two centuries, there has been tremendous progress in eradication of racism in the US. The idea of black slavery had spread in the 18th and 19th century, and unfortunately, African Americans are still viewed as an inferior race many generations later (Lorde, 2018). The issue of racism is not a major concern for most individuals affected, but it becomes a problem when it interferes with the normal line of work, limiting someone from performing some duties simply because of their racial identity.
One such case was in Mississauga, Ont, where a video footage was released showing a woman demanding a white doctor to care for her son (CTV News, 2017). While these cases are not uncommon, the reaction of the institutions associated is one of the determinants of the overall wellness of the affected employees.
This paper analyses the case of Tonya Battle, a 49-year-old nurse who was racially discriminated by the patient, and yet the hospital moved with the demands of the patients. Whereas discrimination could be taken as a general issue by some nurse leaders, it leads to reduction of workers morale, and failure to have its timely correction could bring about serious reputation issues for the organization affected.
Summary of Situation
Tonya Battle is an African American who served in Michigan Hospital as a veteran in the ICU, and had over 25 years of experience in another care institution, Hurley Medical center. Battle once encountered a patient who had strange demands for the care of their newborn (Detroit Free Press, 2020). Upon entry into the NICU where Battle was on the bedside of the infant, the man stood and Battle introduced himself by saying that he was the one taking care of his baby, and asked to see the patient’s identification band. The patient reacted by saying that he needed to see his supervisor (Detroit Free Press, 2020).
After engaging his supervisor, Battle learnt that the man was not comfortable having her baby cared for by an African American. He thought that the hospital would deny his request but unfortunately, Battle was replaced with another nurse to suit the patient demands. Also, Battle noticed that in the infant care chat was a note saying, ‘No African Americans to care for babies,’ which was against the racial standards of equality. It is then that Battle filed a lawsuit against the hospital.
Implication of Situation to Organizational Stakeholders
This situation leads to the demoralization of nurses, where African American nurses are seen as less valuable compared to their white counterparts. Also, upon learning about how the organization treats its employees, it is likely that the community members will be less inclined to visiting it to receive care, despite the fact that it may be the leading care provider in the region. As a result, the hospital may lose huge chunks of revenue (McCluney et al., 2018). Regarding the clients, the staff members are likely to treat them with less care since it is clear that their demands, regardless of how irrational they are, are always placed at the center by the management.
Negative Effects of the Discrimination on the Morale and Functioning of Co-workers and Employees
Among the major negative effects of the discrimination is reduced productivity, as the employees would realize that the organization clearly does not care about their welfare, but only seeks to protect the demands of the patient. Also, there is likely to erupt racial conflicts in the workplace, where some employees may demoralize others on the grounds that they are incapable of giving various services or their general inferiority.
Action Steps I would Have Taken as a Leader to Avoid the Situation in the First Place
As a leader, I would be sure to make it clear to all patients who visit the facility that the hospital is a racism-free zone. This way, there would be no weird demands that would be direct ways of racial profiling. Also, I would educate my staff members about the best ways of reacting to patients who are racists, and how they should exercise a high level of emotional intelligence when directly attacked by such patients.
Action Steps I Would Take as a Leader to Handle the Situation After It Happened
After the patients showed their unwillingness to allow the African American nurse to care for their child, I would be careful to explain to them some of the reasons as to why it would be impossible for me to grant them their request. This is the only way that would ensure that I do not promote the spread of racism in the workplace. I would allow the patient to go to another facility where only white nurses serve the patients (if at all one exists).
Racial profiling is a common issue in organizations, and the organizational leaders are tasked with the responsibility of facing it as a strong vice by discouraging customers from such practices, regardless of whether or not the customers may choose to leave the organizations. Besides demotivation of employees, racism in the workplace can be a major cause of reduced productivity. The case of Tonya Battle is a perfect example of how organizational leaders failed to approach a racism issue in the right way.
CTV News, (2017). Woman demands ‘white doctor’ for her son at Toronto-area medical clinic. https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/woman-demands-white-doctor-for-her-son-at-toronto-area-medical-clinic-1.3467458?hootPostID=bae65588aa1a8a8dba827c59f7102dd8
Detroit Free Press, (2020). Nurse sues after hospital grants dad’s racial request. Robin Erb. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/18/black-nurse-lawsuit-father-request-granted/1928253/
Lorde, A. (2018). Microaggressions, Macroaggressions, and Modern Racism in the Workplace. Microaggressions and Modern Racism: Endurance and Evolution, 105.
McCluney, C. L., Schmitz, L. L., Hicken, M. T., & Sonnega, A. (2018). Structural racism in the workplace: Does perception matter for health inequalities?. Social Science & Medicine, 199, 106-114.
- Example of Direct Discrimination in the Workplace:
- Scenario: A qualified job applicant is rejected solely based on their age, despite having the necessary skills and experience for the position.
- Explanation: This is an example of direct discrimination, where a person is treated less favorably than others in a similar situation because of a protected characteristic—in this case, age.
- Example of Prejudice in the Workplace:
- Scenario: A manager consistently assigns less challenging projects to a team member of a certain ethnic background, assuming they are not capable of handling more complex tasks, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Explanation: This situation illustrates prejudice, as the manager is making preconceived judgments about the team member’s abilities based on their ethnic background, rather than assessing their skills and qualifications fairly.
- Combatting Prejudice in the Workplace:
- Promote Diversity and Inclusion:
- Foster a workplace culture that values diversity and actively promotes inclusivity.
- Encourage diverse perspectives and experiences, recognizing the strengths that come from a varied workforce.
- Educate and Train:
- Implement diversity and inclusion training programs for all employees to increase awareness and understanding of different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives.
- Provide training on unconscious bias to help employees recognize and mitigate their own biases.
- Establish Clear Policies:
- Develop and communicate clear anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.
- Ensure that these policies are consistently enforced, and provide channels for employees to report discriminatory behavior.
- Encourage Reporting and Addressing Concerns:
- Establish a confidential and supportive reporting mechanism for employees who experience or witness discrimination.
- Take all reports seriously, investigate promptly, and take appropriate action to address and rectify the situation.
- Promote Equal Opportunities:
- Implement fair hiring, promotion, and compensation practices that are based on merit, skills, and qualifications.
- Regularly assess and address any disparities in opportunities and outcomes among different groups.
- Lead by Example:
- Leadership should model inclusive behavior and demonstrate a commitment to diversity and fairness.
- Encourage open dialogue about diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organization.
- Celebrate Differences:
- Recognize and celebrate the unique contributions that individuals from diverse backgrounds bring to the workplace.
- Create a supportive environment where everyone feels valued and included.
- Continuous Evaluation and Improvement:
- Regularly assess the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Seek feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments.
- Promote Diversity and Inclusion:
How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace as an employee
Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a collective effort that involves individuals at all levels of the organization. As an employee, you can play a significant role in fostering a more inclusive environment. Here are some practical ways to promote diversity and inclusion:
- Educate Yourself:
- Take the initiative to educate yourself about different cultures, perspectives, and experiences.
- Attend training sessions or workshops on diversity and inclusion to enhance your understanding.
- Challenge Your Own Biases:
- Reflect on your own biases and stereotypes. Consider how they might impact your perceptions of colleagues.
- Actively work to challenge and overcome any biases through self-awareness and continuous learning.
- Promote Open Communication:
- Encourage open and honest communication among colleagues.
- Create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable sharing their experiences and perspectives.
- Use Inclusive Language:
- Be mindful of the language you use and strive to use inclusive and respectful terminology.
- Avoid making assumptions about others based on stereotypes or preconceived notions.
- Celebrate Diversity:
- Acknowledge and celebrate cultural events, holidays, and awareness months.
- Participate in or support initiatives that showcase the diverse backgrounds and talents of your colleagues.
- Amplify Underrepresented Voices:
- Actively listen to and amplify the voices of colleagues from underrepresented groups.
- Give credit to others for their ideas and contributions, ensuring fair recognition.
- Support Employee Resource Groups:
- Join or support employee resource groups (ERGs) that focus on diversity and inclusion.
- Participate in events organized by these groups to show your commitment to a diverse workplace.
- Be an Ally:
- Advocate for colleagues who may face discrimination or bias.
- Stand up against inappropriate comments or behaviors that contribute to an unwelcoming environment.
- Collaborate on Diverse Teams:
- Seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from diverse backgrounds.
- Embrace the diverse perspectives that each team member brings to the table.
- Mentorship and Sponsorship:
- Engage in mentorship programs that support individuals from underrepresented groups.
- Advocate for and support the career development of diverse colleagues by acting as a sponsor.
- Evaluate Policies and Procedures:
- Advocate for the review and improvement of workplace policies to ensure they are fair and inclusive.
- Provide feedback on policies that may inadvertently disadvantage certain groups.
- Participate in Inclusive Hiring Practices:
- Encourage fair and inclusive hiring practices within your organization.
- Support outreach efforts to attract a diverse pool of candidates for job openings.
- Set an Example:
- Demonstrate inclusive behavior in your everyday interactions.
- Lead by example and inspire others to embrace diversity and inclusion.
Benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace
The benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace are numerous and can positively impact both individuals and the organization as a whole. Here are some key advantages:
- Increased Creativity and Innovation:
- Diverse teams bring together individuals with different perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.
- This diversity of thought fosters creativity and innovation, leading to the generation of a wide range of ideas and solutions.
- Enhanced Problem Solving:
- Diverse teams are better equipped to tackle complex problems and challenges.
- Different viewpoints and approaches contribute to a more thorough analysis and a more comprehensive understanding of issues.
- Improved Decision-Making:
- Inclusive teams consider a broader range of perspectives when making decisions.
- This results in more well-rounded and informed decision-making processes.
- Better Employee Engagement:
- Inclusive workplaces promote a sense of belonging among employees.
- When employees feel valued and included, they are more likely to be engaged, committed, and motivated in their work.
- Attracting and Retaining Talent:
- Organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion are more attractive to a diverse talent pool.
- Employees are more likely to stay with companies that foster a culture of inclusion and provide equal opportunities for career development.
- Increased Innovation:
- A diverse workforce brings a variety of perspectives and experiences that can drive innovation.
- Diversity fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptation, crucial for staying competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.
- Enhanced Company Reputation:
- Companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion are often viewed more favorably by customers, clients, and the public.
- A positive reputation can lead to increased brand loyalty and support.
- Global Perspective:
- Diverse teams are better positioned to understand and respond to the needs of a global market.
- Employees with diverse cultural backgrounds bring valuable insights into different markets and customer preferences.
- Increased Employee Well-Being:
- Inclusive environments contribute to positive mental health and well-being among employees.
- Employees are more likely to thrive in workplaces where they feel respected and accepted for who they are.
- Compliance with Regulations:
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives help organizations comply with anti-discrimination and equal opportunity regulations.
- Compliance with these regulations not only mitigates legal risks but also fosters a fair and ethical workplace.
- Enhanced Customer Relations:
- A diverse workforce can better understand and connect with a diverse customer base.
- This understanding can lead to improved customer relations and satisfaction.
- Innovation and Adaptability:
- Diverse teams are more adaptable to change and better positioned to respond to evolving market trends.
- A culture of diversity fosters agility and resilience in the face of challenges.
Examples of diversity in the workplace
Diversity in the workplace encompasses a wide range of characteristics, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and educational background. Here are examples of diversity in the workplace:
- Cultural Diversity:
- Employees from various cultural backgrounds, bringing unique perspectives, traditions, and ways of approaching work.
- Gender Diversity:
- A mix of male and female employees across all levels and departments, working collaboratively to achieve common goals.
- Age Diversity:
- Employees of different age groups, including both younger and older individuals, contributing their experiences and skills to the workplace.
- Ethnic and Racial Diversity:
- A workforce that includes individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, fostering a rich tapestry of experiences and viewpoints.
- Educational Diversity:
- Employees with diverse educational backgrounds, including those with various degrees, certifications, and vocational training.
- Religious Diversity:
- Individuals practicing different religions or belief systems, contributing to a workplace where diverse perspectives are valued.
- LGBTQ+ Diversity:
- Employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or other sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Individuals with neurodivergent conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, or other neurological differences, contributing unique skills and perspectives.
- Physical Abilities Diversity:
- Employees with different physical abilities and disabilities, creating an inclusive environment that accommodates various needs.
- Socioeconomic Diversity:
- Individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds, contributing varied experiences and insights related to economic and social perspectives.
- Language Diversity:
- Employees who speak different languages, reflecting a global and multicultural workforce.
- Veteran Status Diversity:
- Individuals who have served in the military, bringing discipline, leadership skills, and a unique perspective to the workplace.
- Parental Status Diversity:
- Employees with different parental or caregiving responsibilities, including parents, caregivers, and individuals without dependents.
- Thought and Experience Diversity:
- Individuals with diverse career paths, experiences, and problem-solving approaches, enriching the workplace with a variety of skills and knowledge.
- Geographic Diversity:
- Employees from different geographic locations, contributing insights and understanding of regional markets and customer bases.