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Racial discrimination still happens today in the workplace, and it is very unfortunate.  It can be a spoken stereotype or more overt hiring practices.  Sometimes, hiring managers allow personal thoughts or ideas to affect their decisions unconsciously.  Racial discrimination is federally and state regulated, with stiff penalties for allowing or engaging in racial practices.  Because of this, companies need to monitor company processes to ensure that all policies are being followed. 

Employer Responsibility

All employers must provide a workplace that is diverse and offering equal employment to all races or places of origin.  This is guaranteed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This legislation focuses on many different areas of employment such as, but not limited to:

  • Interview questions and requirements
  • Candidate offers such as benefits
  • Pay scales
  • Job Requirements

HR and Best Practices

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits any regard for race in the hiring processes of any employer.  This can be a very difficult practice to identify often, as the discrimination is not as evident as other types of harassment and discrimination.  It can be very difficult to prove that an employee is engaging in unfair hiring practices.  Here is a partial list of the behaviors that the federal government has deemed illegal:

  • Requiring a job applicant to list their race on the job application, and use that to determine whether or not they will be hired.
  • Setting an employee’s salary based on race.


The Elephant in the Room

There are many stereotypes associated with various races/ethnicities. Below are some examples stereotypes that are portrayed in the media and entertainment.

  • African Americans commit more crimes, and are better at sports.
  • Asians are good at math, and poor drivers.
  • Latinos are hard workers, and lazy.
  • Caucasians work hard, and are racist.

Generally, a stereotype might be seen as positive or negative, but that is not the point. The overall message is that it is incorrect to judge any individual in regard to any stereotype.

 Overcoming Stereotypes

Although, a non-discriminatory work culture begins at the CEO/owner level, HR has the responsibility to design and enforce the appropriate policies to promote a non-racially discriminatory work culture.  These policies must include processes that are designed to curb any issues in the interviewing and hiring processes of every applicant.  These processes must also include policies for regular monitoring and auditing for compliance.

Practical Illustration

Peter approached John’s desk, asking if he could talk to him about something that was bothering him. John said yes, so Peter proceeded to talk. He explained that he was feeling uncomfortable in his team because whenever a conversation came up to marketing their new product to various consumers, they always looked to him, to be the “voice” of African Americans. He said he appreciated the fact that they value his opinion, but felt they need to realize that he is only one African American person, and cannot speak for all African Americans. He also said that everyone on the team is trained to consider the needs of various consumers when developing a marketing pitch, so others should chime in as well.

John told Peter that he understood his concern, and assured him that they work for a company that welcomes diversity and handles any issues that may arise surrounding it. John advised Peter to talk to someone to human resources, share his concern, and request advice on how he should handle the matter. Peter sought counsel from HR, who suggested that he have a one-on-one meeting with his supervisor. Peter did so, and was able to resolve the issue bothering him.


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