By Roger Yomba Ngue, Dhaxle Chief Executive Officer In News Comments
Racial discrimination of people with cultural diversity has been going on for a long time and is a commonly ignored problem. It needs to be taken seriously and addressed with a lasting solution. Racism never yielded positive results, whether in the workplace, corporations, universities, law enforcement, politics, travel agencies (in terms of visa approvals), or media. Even sports see their share of racism. The list is endless.
Is the Corporate World a Laboratory of Discriminative Behavior?
Corporations are possibly laboratories of positive reinforcement of discriminative behavior. Current protests have awakened the revendication of more managers of color in Fortune 500 companies and major global firms. How is this possible?
The recruitment at the decision-making level is still dominated by the assumption that the recruiting manager should project himself in a situation where he spends the whole day stuck at the airport with the person, he is willing to recruit. Clearly, the inference is to recruit a person who is like you. This simply resonates as if the person in position of power should never question his perception and feelings whether they are conducive, healthy or destructive to the company’s culture and to social cohesion. Recruiting new talents enter therefore in the same category than customer loyalty programs in which customers earn points for repeat purchases. Managers in such cases continue to earn points to repeat their own perception and unquestionably mistaken behaviors. Of course, this is contrary to well-crafted corporate statements on social responsibility.
This pattern is replicated in the financial industry with diverse variations. Thus, certain demographics can have a relatively easy access to capital while others will struggle. The positive reinforcement of discriminative behavior, correlated with the discriminative stimulus of rewarding the pattern of mistaken choices, are the backbone of the white privilege prominent in global corporations.
Failure of Diversity Programs?
Diversity programs that were instilled by companies in the past to mitigate racial discrimination have unfortunately been failures. Statistics from Harvard Business Review revealed that managers at US commercial banks who were Hispanic only saw their raises go from 4.7% in 2003 to 5.7% in 2014. Black men saw their raises drop from 2.5% to 2.3%, with a far worse number seen for those working at investment banks. These diversity programs failed because their original intention was not to make a meaningful change, but simply appear to provide change. Corporations, individuals, law enforcement, and even the media (who are supposed to expose the truth), in one way or the other, have failed to point out this lack of diversity that exists. Emmanuel Argo, advisor at Dhaxle, believes that, ''In other to combat injustice and its deleterious effects and to prevent racial explosions, mediation bodies must establish a permanent educational dialogue between representative of the orders and these victims which is an approach of truth of conciliation."
Staying silent and doing nothing about this problem has proven to be deadly, making people complicit in the system of oppression. With the recent events happening in our world today, it is clear that there is an urgent need not only to create awareness about racial discrimination with people of color, but also to provide a lasting solution to the problem. The year 2020 has proven to be a challenging one, leading to the deaths of thousands around the world and affecting nations' economies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we also have the uprising against racial injustice after recent George Floyd's death, along with other African Americans.
Seizing the Momentum to Stimulate the Change
Protests have spanned across the nation and over 30 countries have brought awareness to the racism existing today. These protests, combined with social media campaigns, have exposed corporations, brands, individuals, and even sports for their behaviors, comments, and practices.
With the event of Floyd’s death, businesses have risen up statements and posts condemning racial discrimination. Corporations and brands have come out to the frontlines, posting black squares in response to #blackouttuesday or tweeting #blacklivesmatter. However, the real truth is that there is absolutely no difference between ''police brutality" and "corporate brutality" because both are the result of pain, bitterness, abuse, and destruction.
Having a Different Color of Skin or Accent Is Not a Guilty Plea for Death, Ignorance or Weakness
Racial discrimination has another variation, which can be seen as discrimination based on someone’s accent. A study carried out by Financial Times that revealed corporations in the US, when hiring applicants for open positions, always segregate applicants who are not native English speakers. As Emmanuel Argo and Rosine Hamard-Argo state, “Even if they haven’t done anything wrong, their first wrong is to be different” Favoring those who have an American accent leads to those who don't face disadvantages in pay, fundraising as entrepreneurs, and find it nearly impossible to be promoted to middle and upper management positions. This bias should be extensively reviewed by providing people equal opportunities, irrespective of their accent or color.
To adequately mitigate the racism in our workplaces, leaders must pay attention to the Black experience inside their corporations and communities. At Dhaxle, we concur with the outrage expressed by our Director Neil Desnoyers in his June 5, 2020 Facebook post, “(…) at the apparently criminal behavior of the four law enforcement officers that resulted in Floyd's death. Which represent another in a long line of cases of mistreatment of the minority by the law enforcement and incarceration system, each one of us must work to create fairer and more just systems."
The methods in which corporations can get involved in being part of the solution is that they should first identify the harms caused by racism to people of color, without being on the defensive side. Secondly, they should also be able to share the message about how they feel about racism to their staff, without discomfort. Lastly, fighting racism may take some time in the workplace but corporations should hold themselves accountable for the changes they implement to the black experience in their organizations accordingly. It is not just about making a nice-sounding statement for press releases. It needs to be meaningful, broad, and bold.
We Are All in This Together and We Might Find Solutions Together
To implement the necessary changes, we need to curb out the racism in our societies. Individuals and corporations must commit to making these changes, no matter how small they think their contributions are. More than ever, consumers and communities are looking to brands and individuals to see how they are responding to the protests and what action they are taking to promote equality and social justice for all.
Dhaxle, being a customer-centric organization impacting lives through our value-added service and financial transactions, is keen on using our platform and network to create awareness. Our customers, as well as individuals, organizations, corporations, media, and government bodies need to make statements about racism and provide meaningful solutions to cultural racism and discrimination against people of color.
There are many ways in which racial discrimination can negatively affect companies, but here are four crucial ones.
1. Does not create room for opinions and ideas in terms of teamwork
2. Leads to bias in terms of employment acquisitions
3. Decreases workforce productivity
4. Potentially places a company in legal and social jeopardy
3 Strategic Solutions Proposed by Dhaxle to Curb Out Racial Discrimination in Corporations
Dhaxle has come up with three strategic ways for how corporations can get involved to mitigate issues of racial indiscrimination, in order to achieve a productive market workforce and a better society for everyone.
1. Creating Safe Avenues for Difficult Conversations
It is an ideal and bold step for us to acknowledge the racial injustice involving people of color and express our commitment to be part of the change. It is essential that we back up our words with action, otherwise they will remain empty promises. This is why Dhaxle believes that corporations can achieve this by initiating productive and respectful discussions, forming resourceful groups, and training staffs about the need to prevent harassment and discrimination, while also creating channels where their employees feel safe speaking up about racial issues. Organizational leaders and HR professionals are encouraged to work together to create an inclusive environment where people feel safe to bring what they have to offer to the table, irrespective of their cultural diversity, and share their concerns.
2. Leveling Grounds for Employment
The hiring process is one-way corporations can get involved to mitigate racial discrimination. Leaders are undoubtedly the ones who establish a company's culture and most of the time perpetuate racism in their own workplace. They do so because they have failed to acknowledge the flaws of their own internal company culture.
A case study from Harvard Business School revealed that people of color omit references of their race from their resumes in hopes of boosting their chances of getting hired. The study explained that "Asian and black immigrants often change their names to something more American-sounding" in addition changing their interests by using common white Western culture activities, such as hiking and snowboarding.
A way of combating this problem is by being fair during employments and adding blind hiring into the recruitment process, as advised by Madison Campbell, CEO of Leda Health Company. Furthermore, organizations need to outline their stance on racial discrimination, with\ consequences for violations. Corporations have the opportunity to recognize their unconscious biases and prioritize the creation of a more diversified and genuine workplace.
3. Embed Anti-Racism Into Your Values, Training, and Actions
Building a stronger, more reliable, and better workforce is dependent on a solid set of core values that become integrated into decisions, policies, and processes. That is the reason why at Dhaxle we believe it is our responsibility to be part of that change, by informing our esteemed clients, individuals, partners, and other bodies. We should agree that this is the time to denounce weak policies, behaviors, partnerships, and client relationships that encourage racial discrimination. “Companies should focus on how they can cultivate an environment where it’s impossible for racism of any sort to sprout or thrive.” says Madudette Uzoh, CEO of Amazing Days. Furthermore, corporations can actively reduce bias through training, along with embedding processes, policies, and expectations that help create a culture rooted in diversity and inclusion.
Racial discrimination or profiling are not exclusive to the police brutality against people of color. There are also behaviors like non-written policies in the corporate world that limit the progression of people of color in company leadership layers, as well as appointments to sensitive positions. Racial discrimination in all its manifestations is bad for business on all fronts. It does not only have a way of placing companies in legal jeopardy, but also fosters a divisive work culture that undermines morale, teamwork, and productivity. It makes it more challenging to recruit, engage, and retain diverse talent. It also tarnishes an organization's reputation and brand. Dhaxle believes that individuals and corporations play a huge role in mitigating the effects of racial discrimination in the labor force and society, given they are active member in their communities. Corporations need to actively get involved in the process, and it has to start now.