Common Stories on inclusivity and diveristy: Being an “Other” at Work

 Common Stories on inclusivity and diveristy: Being an “Other” at Work

Photo by Victor from Pexels

The need for inclusivity and diversity is at an all time high. As the nation continues to grapple with the ways systemic racism affects the everyday lives of Black men and women and people of color, the people whose experiences with racism have left them changed are no longer silent. On social sites, from around the country, they are telling how microaggressions, underpayment and lack of payment, cronyism and old boys’ clubs and outright discrimination hurt their confidence, making them doubt their skills, or has enraged them. 

There are commonalities among the tales shared under the hashtags like #PublishingPaidMe, where authors shared the amount their publishers paid for their works and highlighted how vastly underpaid Black authors are, even after becoming bestsellers, and #BlackintheIvory, a revealing look at the ways Black higher education professionals are challenged, doubted and unsupported by the institutions at which they work. The posts, alongside individual stories on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and the ones we can’t see shared via email or phone calls, all reveal experiences of being an “other” to those in leadership and to white coworkers in the workplace. These professionals have had their education, qualifications and concerns minimized and denied, and at times, found human resources to be another factor in the negativity as the reps worked to protect the company. 

A story that was shared with the Kanarys team anonymously came from a Black man who is a banking industry leader. “One of my first opportunities for advancement was a consideration for an Associate Relationship Manager position. I was told by the Middle Market Banking Manager that I would not be a good fit for a client-facing role because they fear there were not enough Black business owners in the $20 – 750 million target market to maintain a consistent pipeline of business opportunities.” The leader remembers feeling offended by the comment because the implied statement suggested that he wouldn’t be marketable to other ethnic groups because of his race. 

In the medical industry, there are documented ways that racism influences the treatment Black patients receive, including being less likely to receive medicine for pain management due to their perceived abilities to endure pain better than white patients. Having the white coat doesn’t shield Black doctors from the instances of racism. One doctor shared the conversations she’s endured, including having an anesthesiologist tell her mid-surgery that Black and brown students have an easier time in medical school because schools lower their standards for them and that his two white sons couldn’t get into med school because they weren’t valued like Black and brown students. She also shared racist comments her patient made to her (“Slavery wasn’t all bad”) as well as a comment that a renowned doctor she worked with made (“What in the world is wrong with that God-forsaken continent Africa?” after she explained the origin of her name when asked). 

Additionally, we heard about a former consultant who was told by a company leader that she shouldn’t take her husband’s last name because it sounded too Middle Eastern; a gay woman whose company forced her to discuss her sexuality; and a Latina health care administrator who was told by a healthcare company that Employee Resource Groups were not needed because the company didn’t have enough “minorities” to justify the investment of resources. 

Kanarys own founder/CEO Mandy Price has shared her experience with being othered at work. As a partner at her law firm prior to founding Kanarys, she was called out as the “diverse” partner, despite having the same if not better qualifications as the white men and women she worked with. This and other incidents propelled her to start Kanarys as the outlet for professionals to anonymously share their experiences and help others avoid the same situation.

The stories shared here and others have posted online are a sliver of the ways that racism shows up in the workplace. While Kanarys understands and is built on the anonymity needed to tell difficult stories and shine light on the ways companies can be more inclusive, we are excited to see how many Black men and women are willing to publicly share their stories and create a call for action to employers, agencies, partners and institutions to make meaningful changes in diversity, equity, and inclusion

You are encouraged to share your story about inclusivity and diversity on Kanarys, and help shape the ways companies hire, promote and retain diverse employees in meaningful ways. Create your account or log in and share

Veleisa Burrell

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