7 Examples of Modern Racism In The Workplace

Examples of modern racism in the workplace.


Destiny S. Harris

a year ago | 4 min read

Photo Credit: Getty

1. Being ignored.

Two black women I know remain in a constant dilemma: their ideas and contributions are overlooked, discounted, and often criticized. Put a white woman behind the same ideas and contributions, and naturally, you’ll tune in a bit more. Why? Because we’ve been taught to respect and uphold the white person more so than the black person who has been depicted and treated as a second-class citizen throughout history.

2. Being underpaid.

A black male project manager was getting paid $50,000 a year, while a white male project manager received over $70,000. The black male didn’t even know he was getting underpaid. He was just thankful he got a job considering how many companies rejected his candidacy — despite having several years of relevant experience, skillful communication, and an overall complete package to bring to the position.

Source: Payscale

But it’s not just Black men who are victims of low and underhanded salaries. Black women are also affected in groves, experiencing even more significant disadvantages than their black male counterparts.

NWLC’s analysis found that black women with a bachelor’s degree were typically paid $46,694 — just under what white, non-Hispanic men with only a high school degree were paid ($46,729). Black women had to earn a master’s degree to make slightly more ($56,072) than white, non-Hispanic men with just an associate degree ($54,620) (SHRM).

3. Getting overlooked for promotions.

About 65% of blacks said they have to work harder to advance, compared with only 16% of white employees (

I got really lucky when I was promoted. My boss left the company abruptly, which left me reporting directly to executive leadership. I kept volunteering to help out with any and every project. Hence, my efforts were rewarded, but I’m an anomaly. This doesn’t happen enough — especially for women of color. To date, none of my long-term bosses have once promoted me. I’ve had to move to different companies to get promoted. The only person to promote me has been someone who should’ve never been my boss in the first place. I’ll always be forever grateful to her for granting me an opportunity many Black individuals are still struggling to get because of all the hoops and barriers they have to get through.

4. Not ever being in leadership or never being positioned to be in leadership.

If you work in tech, you’re likely to be familiar with seeing a white individual in management or executive leadership than you are a black individual.

Despite spending millions on corporate diversity efforts, U.S. companies aren’t retaining black professionals or promoting them to top positions, causing many of those workers to walk out the doors in frustration. Black people account for about 12% of the U.S. population but occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions, according to the analysis by the Center for Talent Innovation (

Silicon Valley Example

When the Executives and Managers job categories are combined, African American workers are less than 1 percent of this group at these select leading Silicon Valley firms, and Hispanic workers are 1.6 percent (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

A Common Theme: Not Respected In Leadership

When black people take a leadership position, they are often treated with less respect than non-black individuals; this is likely a result of unconscious bias. And unconscious bias has a way of infiltrating our interactions and behaviors towards others outside of our usual network and social groupings.

5. Non-Diverse Hiring

One reason why many tech companies remain predominantly white is that white individuals dominate tech. Want to know what type of people managers hire? People who are similar to them — even if they don’t realize it.

CNBC says that upwards of 80% of jobs may be filled through networking. If 80% of jobs are being filled through network connections, think about your network. Do most of the people in your network look like you? What about your colleagues at your company? Do their network connections look like them? If 70% of tech workers are white and their networks all look like them, it stands to reason the candidates being referred to your company are primarily white.

Two ways to help increase diverse hiring is to 1) include diverse people in the interviews and hiring discussions and 2) ensure you allow enough time between posting the job and proposing an offer to allow for more diverse candidates to fill the pipeline.

6. Not Creating A Safe Environment

Recently, I met with a professional contact; she relayed to me that her whole team is White, and they don’t know how to converse with her. Furthermore, the subjects they talk about are culturally polarizing; no effort is invested in learning about her or finding commonalities with her. Hence, she mostly remains a fly on the wall in many team meetings.

A survey showed a 7% increase in people who felt they had to minimize their heritage or personal identity to fit in at their workplace (Forbes).

Identity Fatigue

Many company environments don’t feel safe and inclusive, leading people to mask who they are. Over time, this strains a person’s well-being and mental health deteriorate, both on and outside the job.

7. Low Numbers In Innovative Fields

Tech is one of the most innovative fields — if not the most. Yet, the field remains dominated by white individuals. I predict that if tech companies start to implement more strategic, prioritized, and committed efforts to hire more diverse candidates, we could further accelerate the rapid growth rate of emerging technologies.

Diversity brings fresh perspectives, unique innovation, and creativity.

According to the 2014 Diversity in High Tech Report from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the percentage of Black employees in high-tech industries is 7.4%. Yet, about 13% of the U.S. population is Black.

Hey, I’m Destiny, and I give free eBooks daily. Access all Medium articles here.


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Destiny S. Harris

Destiny S. Harris' ultimate goal is to positively inspire, cultivate, elevate, and educate the minds of individuals across the globe through her writing. Social (tw, fb, ig, web3): @desertnatty







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